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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Hardcover – June 13, 2017
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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An Amazon Best Book of June 2017: If you’re a woman in America, chances are, no matter your size, you probably have a somewhat fetishistic relationship with food. We obsess over having too much, too little (to a lesser degree); we use terms like stealing a bite and guilty pleasure--things that evoke shame, and are meant to keep our bodies in line. For those that fit that (ever narrowing) bill, congratulations! Clothes are designed to fit you, kale growers love you, and so does society. You bask in its glow. The rest risk being in shadow, which is exactly where Roxane Gay wanted to be. In her brutally honest and brave memoir Hunger, Gay recounts a childhood sexual assault that led her to purposely gain weight in order to be unseen and therefore “safe.” Gay warns at the beginning of the book that if you’re looking for a triumphant weight loss memoir, this is not it. But Hunger is a triumph nonetheless. It’s a story not easily told, but the telling set her free. And through Gay’s experience we learn one of lessons she eventually did, that “all of us have to be more considerate of the realities of the bodies of others,” and more accepting of our own. --Erin Kodicek, The Amazon Book Review
“A work of staggering honesty . . . . Poignantly told.” (New Republic)
“The book’s short, sharp chapters come alive in vivid personal anecdotes. . . . And on nearly every page, Gay’s raw, powerful prose plants a flag, facing down decades of shame and self-loathing by reclaiming the body she never should have had to lose.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“Bracingly vivid. . . . Remarkable. . . . Undestroyed, unruly, unfettered, Ms. Gay, live your life. We are all better for having you do so in the same ferociously honest fashion that you have written this book.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Searing, smart, readable. . . . “Hunger,” like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” interrogates the fortunes of black bodies in public spaces. . . . Nothing seems gratuitous; a lot seems brave. There is an incantatory element of repetition to “Hunger”: The very short chapters scallop over the reader like waves.” (Newsday)
“Luminous. . . . intellectually rigorous and deeply moving.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“Her spare prose, written with a raw grace, heightens the emotional resonance of her story, making each observation sharper, each revelation more riveting. . . . It is a thing of raw beauty.” (USA Today)
“Powerful. . . . fierce. . . . Gay has a vivid, telegraphic writing style, which serves her well. Repetitive and recursive, it propels the reader forward with unstoppable force.” (Associated Press)
“This is the book to read this summer . . . she’s such a compelling mind . . . . Anyone who has a body should read this book.” (Isaac Fitzgerald on the Today show)
“Hunger is Gay at her most lacerating and probing. . . . Anyone familiar with
Gay’s books or tweets knows she also wields a dagger-sharp wit.”
“Wrenching, deeply moving. . . a memoir that’s so brave, so raw, it feels as if [Gay]’s entrusting you with her soul.” (Seattle Times)
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She says she's a PhD and knows all there's to know and that people who offer her help are kind but basically don't understand. I would say, "just get off your couch and do something and stop stuffing yourself to death. And stop whining." Why does she expect people to sympathize with her? Is it because she's so smart and a PhD and knows everything?
The rest of us who have weight problems work hard and watch what they eat and not just expect people to respect them, accommodate them, and all the nonsense she talked about on the program. Sorry, but I'm not buying these excuses of victimhood, suppression and all that.
While Hunger is structured as a book of meditations, and essays, it gets very, very repetitive. Yes, Roxane Gay was brutally raped as a child. This traumatic event caused her to eat, trying to pack on the pounds to make herself feel safe. I get it. The problem is, she mentions the rape a handful of times in the beginning, and then never again.
For the most part, every chapter is about being overweight. How difficult it is to live as someone who is considered morbidly obese - particularly when they don't like diets, and prefer not to exercise. Add on to the fact that she casually mentions obesity doesn't have an impact on a person's health and things get frustrating. I get that she's Hungry for more, I do. But you never find out what more means in the book. Instead, it's just chapter after chapter of her being frustrated with herself for being overweight.
Personally, I think this book could have used a better editor. Cut out some of the repetition, tighten up the essays where you can. It could very easily have been done, and would have made Hunger out to be a much, much stronger book. I hate to give it such a low rating, but I have to. It was such a frustrating book to get through, and could have been laid out much, much better.
Another one of her gripes is against men, and sexism. Now I agree we live in a sexist world, but she takes it a bit far. She seems to think it is sexist that men prefer thin women in our culture. Huh? Since when do women like fat men? I get it that it's hard to go through life when you are not svelt and attractive. But that plight affects a lot of people - male, female, thin, fat. Some of it's due to culture, sure, but quite a bit of it is also biology. And I'm sorry but nature doesn't discriminate - nature just exists. Again this is an area where I feel she needs to get over herself.
The writing is also insufferable. The chapters are short, repetitive and underdeveloped. She uses the phrase "story of my body" so many times I want to throw the book across the room. Just get on with the story! I'm a quarter of the way into the book and the plot has barely begun to emerge.
And finally, while I am sorry she was raped, a lot of people have been raped. She doesn't even give us that many details about what happened. She repeatedly says it's hard for her to write about. But this is a book! If you can't write about it, then why is Amazon charging me money to read it??? So far, I'm not convinced that it's a trauma nearly as bad as she's made it out to be. There are entire families in Syria where ALL the women have not only been serially raped, but the men have been tortured and the children killed. And those kids never got to go to Phillips Exeter. So excuse me if, while I do have sympathy for the 12-year-old Ms. Gay, that sympathy is finite.
I do hope this book improves. I believe there is a story here to be told, and I hope she gets around to it. I hope she can cut through her own complexes and start writing a decent book. Personally I take a lot more issue with her writing style than with her weight. We'll see how it turns out...