Previously, I used the words “brutally honest and uncomfortably candid” to describe Camilla Gibbs’s memoir This Is Happy, and the same descriptors can be applied emphatically to this memoir by Roxane Gay. Gay is subjected to a brutal sexual assault at age 12; she discusses being both a survivor and a victim. There are two dramatic aspects to the aftermath: her silence and her reaction to eating, to become fat and undesirable in order to be safe. Gay vividly describes living in a wildly undisciplined body as she becomes categorized as morbidly obese. The cruelty of public opinion of her appearance (i.e. fat shaming) is tragic. Her own analysis of her psychology is self-loathing. This is a deeply personal memoir that is often disturbing but occasionally comic as she describes how much she hates exercise. An amazing story.
What’s not to love about a book with a first chapter entitled Lutefisk, when a Danish-Norwegian marriage is described as mixed race, and two children are named Rothko and Bracque (OK, the father is an art history professor). This is a book about the modern foodie culture, with a wise treatment of life in the Mid-West. The reading is very satisfying with some ridiculously funny parts and then amazingly poignant sections.
Hugo is obnoxious, cynical and bitter with self-loathing, so a thoroughly unpleasant person who has chosen to be a hermit. His choice of suicide to end his life (spoiler alert) is thwarted leading to a not entirely satisfactory ending but the writing is excellent throughout. (You may remember that I recommended another Christensen book last month, The Great Man)