Thursday, July 27, 2017

BAD FEMINIST





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Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay, HarperCollins, 2014, 282 pp


Note to my blog followers: I hope I don't wear you out as I double up on posts for the rest of the month. The reason is I have been finishing so many books this month and don't want to get hopelessly behind on posting my reviews. Most of the reviews are somewhat short so there is that. Also next month's reading is going to include longer books=less books read=less posts. 


I have been reading this collection of essays over many months. I have followed Roxane Gay on Twitter for a couple years. If you have not heard of her, you live under a rock. I wanted to see what all the excitement was about.

First of all, the title is brilliant for our times when no one is sure what feminism is anymore or if anyone even needs to be a feminist these days. Having been one since about 1972, I can tell you it is a process and yes, the world is still badly in need of advocates for women. But we don't need anyone defining it for us.

I have lots of admiration for Roxane Gay, a woman of color who has overcome much adversity and with sheer hard work and no reticence about speaking out, has carved a place for herself in the world. She embodies and explicates the ambiguity and hypocrisy of the modern world.

I found the collection a bit uneven but since essays are not my go to reading genre I may not be qualified to say that. Her movie and book reviews and her takes on pop culture reminded me of James Baldwin. The female James Baldwin. Has anyone else felt that way? I have not heard that said about her.

The personal essays in which she recreates pivotal moments in life show equal parts naked self-analysis and sophisticated thinking.

I have owned a copy of her novel, An Untamed State, for a couple years. I am almost afraid to read it because of what I have heard about the rape scenes, but I know I should. For me at least, my fear of rape is stronger than my fear of death. Perhaps I will first read Ayiti, her collection of short stories set in Haiti where her family is from.

Forgive me Roxane. You are almost too much for me. You have however earned a place in my personal pantheon of bad women! 


(Bad Feminist is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

9 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed reading your post about Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I am a feminist myself as well.

    I had the wonderful opportunity of hearing Roxane Gay speak at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California last month and she is a phenomenal speaker and scholar. I was excited to have her sign copies of her books Bad Feminist and Difficult Women!! https://captivatedreader.blogspot.com/2017/06/i-attended-2017-bay-area-book-festival.html

    Sadly, I have yet to read either of her books yet, but will do so sooner rather than later I hope.

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    1. I hope to see her in person some day. She comes to LA frequently but her events are so packed and I have trouble in crowds. But I will certainly be reading her other books.

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  2. I bought An Untamed State when it first came out. I started reading it and I was "liking it", or her voice at least, but I decided to leave it for something more cheerful.

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    1. Can't say that I blame you.

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  3. I have not read Gay's books, although I've followed her writing on several of the news sites that I frequent - Slate, Salon, The Atlantic, etc. She's a very insightful and passionate writer and always tells it as she sees it, even when that view isn't popular. One has to admire that. It's good to see her getting the acclaim that she has earned.

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    1. I know you do not live under a rock!

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  4. I hope you are able to meet Roxane Gay some day. I remember last month at the Bay Area Book Festival that Roxane Gay said she visits LA a lot as I think her love interest lives there.

    I am not a huge fan of crowds either.

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  5. I have not read Roxane yet -- I think I do live under a rock, but I do know of her! I think I might like to steer around the rape parts and perhaps this book of essays is a place to start. Nice review.

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    1. Having followed your blog for a while now, I certainly wouldn't say you live under a rock! I am glad you liked my review. I think Bad Feminist is an excellent place to start because you really get a picture of what she is about.

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