I recently finished reading Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (my very first read by Roxane Gay!), a collection of short stories, all of which will captivate you until you get to the very last page. If you love stories about characters, characters who have lived extraordinary lives in their ordinary day to day, characters who are unlikable, misunderstood, deeply flawed, deeply hurt, three dimensional, this collection is for you.
The stories are a powerful exploration of infidelity, love unconditional, faith and actions, sexual assault, grief, motherhood, sisterhood, and more. My favorite lines from the collection are below and while this isn’t necessarily spoilery, maybe read the lines after you read the collection and see if any of these lines spoke to you as well..
I Will Follow You
- Every night, I went online and checked my account balances and thought, This is what my life was worth.
Water, All Its Weight
- “This is my life,” she said to the empty room. “I am grateful.” Then she tried to master faith.
- She runs because she loves her body, the power of it, how it has always saved her when she most needed saving.
- When she was finally alone, her husband in the cafeteria looking for something to eat, she held her firstborn child and stared at him, eager to see some mark of herself, eager to feel like the nine months of carrying him, the bed rest, the way he tore her all the way open, was worth it. She never found what she was looking for.
La Negra Blanca
- He keeps her coffee fresh and brings her big salads with dressing on the side, then gives her foil-wrapped Handi Wipes to clean her hands with after she’s done calculating her worth for that night.
- There once was a man. There is always some man.
- She knows Hanna is telling the truth. She knows Hanna is lying. She cannot quite figure out how she’s doing both at the same time.
Requiem for a Glass Heart
- She steals these moments for herself because her life is so transparent that she craves having something private, something precious. She crafts from these moments secrets for herself that she has not shared and will not share with her husband, who sees too much and loves too carefully.
Break All the Way Down
- It is hard to breathe in a house with no air but I tried.
- He was named Patrick for his father, may he rest in peace, who left Nora when Mickey was four, and died three months later from an excess of joy, Patrick Minty’s friends would later say, because he died in his studio apartment watching a baseball game with a six-pack if beer in his lap.
- She knows how difficult it is to change the world. She used to try, to change the world, but she learned better.
- Winter is more a state of being than a season, in this place.
I Am A Knife
- I am a knife. He is a gun.
The Sacrifice of Darkness
- They don’t know what to do with someone like me, who mostly doesn’t bother with small lies.
- It is easy to become accustomed to darkness and chill. If you bear it long enough, you can become accustomed to almost anything.
- “Pride does things to time,” she said. “And foolish pride is worse yet.”
- The first time, I slapped you. I left a mark. I’m sorry. In my defense, I was angry you would commit the rest of your life to me.
- You point back at the shore and say, look how far we can go when we’re together, and the moment always chokes me.
- Each of those days I went to work. I sat in my office and smiled and pretended to be alive.
- You are the joy in my life. I am a mess but I will be the joy in yours.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay is available now.