Because Roxane Gay writes with such raw honesty in Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body it will be difficult for me to write a blog post in response. The story was so powerful and HERS that it is daunting to attempt to reflect upon it. But because I loved the book and want other people to read it (and I do have a book blog – ha!!!) I will give it a shot.
Roxane Gay, also the author of bestselling Bad Feminist: Essays, is fat, very fat. She uses this word – “fat” – about herself over and over.
“When I use the world I am not insulting myself. I am describing myself.”
Much of her story is about living as a fat person in this world, including the embarrassment, the despair, the hopelessness.
But her memoir is also about WHY she is fat.
“Some boys had destroyed me, and I barely survived it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to endure another such violation, and so I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away.”
The book reads as a series of short chapters/essays, mostly in chronological order, of her different experiences and horrors as a fat person, one who is dealing with trauma. Much of it is heartbreaking.
In a chapter towards the end, she details how she has located her attacker- not too difficult of course with modern technology – and her fantasy of confronting him. The words of this chapter were some of the most affecting I have ever read.
For most of the book, she does not present herself as a warm person, which is understandable. A friend of mine had her as a professor and said she gave great advice and was very personable with a sense of humor. Though the book is mostly serious, her humor came across occasionally, such as when she relates the horror calling the ambulance after falling in her apartment:
“Many EMTs showed up and 83 percent of them were hot.”
Still she is someone I would be nervous to tell what I thought of the book. And that’s OK because it is not about me. She says herself she wrote the book for herself, not for us. And I truly hope it brought her closer to healing.
This book is part of my summer reading list. I’m 2 for 2 in great books thus far!!
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