An interesting side effect of social media (looking at you Twitter) is that the online communities we become a part of contain people who have an internet life and an entirely separate not the internet life (some people call this “real life”…this blogger remains skeptical that it’s any more real than this). I love following authors on Twitter so much that there are more authors I follow who’s books I haven’t read than I have. It’s so interesting to me getting to know someone’s online personality and then diving into their fiction. When I’m unlucky their writing makes me like them less, most often their writing is about what I’d expect of them, and then there are the Roxane Gay’s of the world. Difficult Women, her collection of short stories, made me so proud that I get to be a part of a community, even an online one, that she is in.
Lately I’ve been finding myself wanting less idealized characters and writing. There’s a sort of happy medium I’m looking for in my reading that toes the line between whimsy and human. More recently representation in books (and all other medias) has been under the spotlight and realistic and non stereotypical representations are getting the attention (and hopefully money…idk though publishing is scary world financially for the writers) they deserve. Difficult Women is representation of women I’ve been waiting for. Roxane Gay keeps the plots going through her characters and allows them to be completely human and so fully developed that in just a few pages I feel completely familiar with them. It was a relief to read women who were written as fully part of the world we live in with all the highs, lows and weirdness that that includes.
Anytime anyone writing short stories manages to get me emotionally invested at all I think it’s so impressive because the allotted time for the author to build a world and characters that draws me in is so short. That feels like an obvious thing to say about short stories but outside the short story world I don’t know how much it is appreciated. Short stories alway strike me as being closer to poetry than to novels. Going into writing a short story is saying that you are going to utilize each word to the absolute fullest. This is all why when I found myself crying just a little bit on the train on the way to work at one of the short stories in this collection I had to take a moment and appreciate the work that went into that. It’s not every story that can make me cry and it’s certainly not every short story that can make me cry. Roxane Gay has written one of the best short story collections I’ve had the privilege of reading with Difficult Women and I strongly recommend it to everyone.