Author: Roxane Gay
Publisher: Harper Perennial, 2014
Recommendation: Read this book.
Roxane Gay, never afraid to speak her mind, also never tries to convince you to believe her beliefs. But you know she’s right. In a series of smartly written and sharply observant essays, Gay talks about what it means to be a feminist—to accept flawed women and critique respectability politics. She divides her narratives into sections: Me, Gender and Sexuality, Race & Entertainment, Politics, Gender, and Race, and Me (again), each essay simultaneously personal and political. With an admirable lack of sentimentality, Gay talks about “rape culture” and what the implications of its “cultural” aspect, surviving sexual assault, attending fat camp, and competing professionally in scrabble. We also get a glimpse at her bookshelf, her wall of DVDs, and the move ticket stubs gathered in her coat pocket. She critiques popular cultural products like books and black movies with the sharp tongue of a mother who encourages her children and chides them for their shortcomings in the same small breath. Sometimes I even saw the characters of her other books come out. Some of the essays in Race and entertainment got a little monotonous, though. The points about (the lack of) black people in front of and behind the screen in Hollywood and its implications are true and need to be said, but once is enough for the same point. Overall, I would eagerly recommend this book, especially to the women who “get along better with men than with women.”