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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.)