Leslie's Bookcase

celebrating and recommending unforgettable books

Hunger: A memoir of a body

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.

A victim of a brutal sexual assault, she is fat because she used food and being fat as a shield from people who may hurt her again. She felt that if no one wanted to touch her she was safe:

“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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  1. Nice review! I agree, she wasn’t warm at all, but it was understandable. I chuckled at the EMT comment. It must be interesting having her as a professor.

    • Leslie

      June 28, 2017 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks, Comfy 🙂
      Yes, I found out (when I was reading the book!) that she was a professor in the department where/when I was finishing up my MA degree! But she would have been creative writing (I’m assuming) and I was finishing up a British/American lit focus and was also a commuter, so we didn’t cross paths, unfortunately. I can’t believe I didn’t realize that until now though.

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