The third book I chose to read this year as part of my reading challenge was ‘Difficult women’ by Roxane Gay. Somehow I have never come across her books before. I read great reviews about this book on Goodreads and some other websites. Another reason to choose this book was that,it was a collection of short stories. I have always been enthralled by short stories. I relish them for their craft and content.They won’t be as lengthy as novels and give a sense of accomplishment once you finish reading them. I have always felt that short stories reveal the actual adroitness of a writer.
Contrary to the good reviews about this book, I found it neither compelling nor captivating. The title and the blurb gives you an altered perspective about the content of this book. The stories were unremarkable as far as craft and content were concerned. I have read riveting stories on women in Malayalam, which is my native language. I have had the fortune to read some of the finest short stories on women by proficient authors like KR Meera. Compared to the short stories written on women in Malayalam by authors like Madhavikutty, KR Meera and others, Roxane Guy doesn’t deserve any special mention. Somehow I could not relate to most of her characters. I felt they were unreal and fictitious people who were fabricated just for the sake of telling a story. It is not because the story setting is in USA. Many a times while reading authors from other continents, I have felt so much one with the characters that I could laugh, cry and empathise with them effortlessly. None of the stories in this collection made me laugh or cry. I felt the author is too much obsessed with twins and siblings. She is too descriptive about sex which actually doesn’t serve any purpose in these stories. Even the elucidation is done using similar language, vocabulary and imagery which fails to expose the versatility of the author. After reading the entire collection, ‘I will follow you’ and ‘Break all the way down’ emerged as the only two stories even worth remembering. I am disappointed with this collection and would not dare to recommend this book to anyone.