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"I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere.... I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognized or understood, but at least I was safe."
In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as "wildly undisciplined", Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her past - including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life - and brings listeners along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved - in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By S. Yates on 07-17-17
Brutal and raw and honest
Any additional comments?
4.5 stars. This is a difficult, painful, excruciating read. But it is also a necessary, revealing, and enlightening read. Gay bares herself, turns her pen toward her own vulnerabilities with a raw and brutal honesty, admitting to things she finds humiliating and shameful, sharing how the most brutal event of her life has shaped her and continues to shape her. Her writing, as always, is clean and sharp and evocative. There is less of her humor here, as the subject is not funny. She does not pull punches and does not attempt to lighten the mood when she discusses the indignities her body subjects her to. She never claims her body is not her responsibility, and she never claims to love her body the way it is or that she does not wish to lose weight. But she also does not spend the entire book berating her body or ignoring that some of what she let her body become was caused by trauma in childhood. I fear many women reading this will see themselves in Gay and hear themselves in her narrative, in her hopes and fears. Especially in her relationship with her body. And it is a sad thing that so many have combative relationships with their own flesh, that many women battle their bodies (whether because of trauma inflicted or because of societal norms or in an effort to control some aspect of their lives). This book leaves me feeling a little battered and emotionally bruised, but better for having read it. Gay's introspective examination, sometimes unflinching and sometimes rightfully flinching, is well worth any reader's time.
25 of 25 people found this review helpful
By River Holmes-miller on 06-21-17
Dark, thought provoking, sometimes frustrating
Would you consider the audio edition of Hunger to be better than the print version?
I never know what to do with this question...people tend to read OR listen to a text, but rarely encounter both the print and audio versions. That said, Gay's performance probably adds quite a bit to the experience, so I am giving the audio version the edge here.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Hunger?
I was often struck by how difficult it is -- practically speaking -- for a person of size to simply go through the world. Roxane Gay details her struggles with flying on airplanes, sitting in certain kinds of chairs, and finding clothing she likes. These are things I understood before reading her book, but presented as a daily lived struggle, I found a new sense of empathy and compassion for people of size.
What about Roxane Gay’s performance did you like?
She has a lovely voice. It is well-modulated and soothing. That said, there is very little (perhaps zero?) humor in this book. This is understandable, as the subject matter is dark and personal, but it would have been nice to have a few small moments of levity, if only to introduce another dimension to her speaking voice.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Not particularly. The book feels less shocking or revelatory than it does meditative. I felt compassion, empathy, and sometimes a little frustration -- there is the feeling that Gay's childhood rape was the biggest, most important event in her life, and as such, it eclipses every other good thing that has happened to the author. I understand this, but at times Gay's persistent emphasis on the ways in which she has been damaged seems to conflict with the many, many gifts she has been given. Yes, she was traumatized, and horribly so. But unlike a great many other people who have been traumatized, she has gone on to accomplish much in her life. She went to Yale, and has a fantastic career, and is a well-known and respected author/feminist. Of course, Gay is writing about her body here, a body that she has punished in every possible way since she was 12 years old, so perhaps my frustration is misplaced?
Any additional comments?
There are many universal truths in this book. Though I am of average weight, I related to the underlying shame that Roxane Gay feels, as well as the effect trauma has had on her life. This is a book women of all shapes, sizes, and colors will be able to relate to. It is less about being fat (her word) than it is about wanting to hide from a deep sense of shame and unworthiness. Women do that in lots of ways...Gay holds up the mirror here, and there is much to see.
51 of 53 people found this review helpful