A Memoir of (my) Body

Book - 2017
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"Gay has written ... about food and bodies, 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." --
The popular Tumblr blogger and best-selling author of Bad Feminist explores the devastating act of violence that triggered her personal challenges with food and body image, sharing advice for caring for oneself and eating in healthful and satisfying ways. -- Publisher's description.
"'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 had been 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 I made but barely recognized or understood. I was miserable, but I was safe.' In this intimate and searing memoir, ... bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties--including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life--and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and it tells a story that hasn't yet been told but needs to be." -- Book jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062362599 (hardcover)
0062362593 (hardcover)
(BAM signed edition)
(B&N signed edition)
(Indigo signed edition)
(international edition)
Branch Call Number: 306.4613 GAY
Characteristics: 306 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

From the New York Times best-selling author of Bad Feminist, a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself.

If you love the poignant fiction of Difficult Women, savored the sharp essays of Bad Feminist, and are looking for a personal story that will pull you in, don't miss this memoir of Roxane's body, Hunger. The intimate reflections on the violence, self-care, consumption, and pleasure her body has k... Read More »

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Sep 17, 2017

Revealing, honest, courageous. The level of her candor was uncomfortable. As I read I was constantly challenged about my feelings, reactions, and fears. She evoked wide thought about relationships of all kinds, introspection about my place among the people I affect, pity and some anger. I could not help comparing her issues with those created by addiction and trauma generally. Mostly, I was left with how culture, particularly ours (and particularly as it relates to our being sexual creatures) distorts, bends, contorts and confuses. This is a very valuable work. Our city library selected it for the book everyone should read. It is a good selection. I would love to sit and talk with this author, question her, listen, learn and think, but I would be afraid of her and offending her. An odd contradiction of feelings and that is what this book evoked.

Sep 16, 2017

Horrific experience and wonderful writing despite everything....Not easy read whatsoever.

strangegazelle Sep 13, 2017

Roxane Gay's "Hunger" deals with a sort of psychological horror I think. In the process of eating more and more to become larger, safer, and less desirable to predatory men and women, she has to face this new difficulty of dealing with the physical heaviness of her body. Here, I really appreciated her observations about the challenges she faces with going to events, flying, seeing a movie. She gives a strong indictment of a society that has a long way to go in prioritizing the needs of all of its people. I very much like Ms. Gay’s openness mixed with her sense of humor. This book is not always easy to read (as any summary of “Hunger” would show) but her directness and skill as a writer gives and lifts the gravity of the material as needed. Recommended.

Aug 30, 2017

I had to put this book down several times in reading it. It is so raw I felt like I was invading the author's privacy - except that it all happened to the author. But I just had to look away. While I thought of not finishing the book, in the end I read it all. You learn right away (if you didn't already know) that she was gang raped at a young age. At the end I wondered if the boy that led her to the cabin to be gang raped knows about the book, knows that he is described (though not named) as an adult in the present time. I hope he does and is waiting for the "the other shoe to drop" as I can't believe this is the end of the story. And there is always the question - did they rape more than one little girl? While the book was hard to read by the end I wanted more - I want him and the other boys to pay for their crime.

Aug 28, 2017

I couldn't finish this. It's beautifully written; it's intimate and raw and honest. I felt like I was sinking while I was reading it though. I also felt, horribly, that I had read this all before, in smaller bits, in more oblique ways. It was terribly familiar. So I wondered why I was reading it again... :(

Aug 27, 2017

This is like a wrecking ball to your brain. Gets right in there and messes everything up. Even if you think you're open-minded and willing to be generous to people who have it worse than you, your prejudice and generalizations will out. Everybody has them, even people full of eating disorders like me. We just try to make the best of it.

This book goes so deep. The story starts with what being raped at 13 causes to her body and the blame and shame she's attached to it, but deeper reading shows a lot of family perfectionism and strict religiosity, other causes for her extreme protective behavior. That's the meat of the book; the deeper consequences of a loving family with high expectations that make it impossible to find a soft place to land.

So before the rape, the soft place to land is a bad boy who causes the fat reaction. But after the rape is the desperation for a soft place to land, even more. Family on the outside looks so perfect and successful; inside is impossible. She acts like someone who will never get the love she needs because of all the judgment, and this is the story of many other people with extreme eating disorders. It's our private way of saying "I've got this" to at least one thing in our lives. One thing we can control, whether we're in control or not.

After reading this, I became a different person. I am not going to let anyone live inside my head, influencing my life in any way like these boys who raped her (specifically the "boyfriend") seem to do with the author. All you do when you are tormented by others is let them win. They aren't affected at all. And you are devastated to the point where, in the author's case, you gain several hundred pounds of protective flesh.

As a strong woman, it kills me she has let another person live inside her head and control her life like this. This is one of the best authors I have ever read, on any topic, and to feel the pain on the pages is heartbreaking. I don't want to do this to myself. I won't, after reading this.

Aug 12, 2017

You have to be ready when you sit down to read this truly amazing book: ready for the honesty, ready for the sadness, ready to feel incredible heartache and admirable courage for Gay and everything she has been through. What a beautiful writer, what a beautiful and brave and honest person Gay is as she strips herself bare for us, and forces us to look at a society that can't and won't accept difference. I was so incredibly moved.

KateHillier Jul 13, 2017

This is the most personal book I've read this year and her discomfort screams from every sentence. Roxane Gay is large woman. She is a tall woman. She is a black woman. She is a queer woman. How she moves through life, and how other people see her presence in theirs, is very different.

I'm not going to go through this painfully personal memoir and nitpick it. She's shared it with us, I hope I have learned something from the reading of it that I can put into practice out in the world, and I strongly encourage you to read it too. Yes, even you.

Jul 10, 2017

"I am weary of all our sad stories — not hearing them, but that we have these stories to tell, that there are so many."

This quote from Roxane Gay's Hunger best sums up my feelings to her story. In her new book, Gay allows herself to become uncomfortably vulnerable through the pages of this book. (I use the word "uncomfortable" because I'm not good at dealing with others emotions. I'm not the one people go to when they need comforting.) We learn about the trauma that drove her to literally build a barrier around herself. We learn about how, again because of this trauma, she allowed others to misuse and abuse her. We learn about the smaller, still painful moments that define the life of a fat person.

She states early on that this is not a book about life at 30, 40 or even 50 pounds overweight. Hers is a story about living while hundreds of pounds of overweight, and navigating through a physical world that is not designed for "unruly bodies." Some challenges I was already aware of. I was a pretty heavy kid, and am still a chubby adult. I know what it's like trying to shop for clothes. When making healthy changes, I'm also worried "that I am getting ahead of myself." Some challenges were pretty eye-opening. They all prompted me to be more aware of other bodies and the challenges they face.

This book feels less like a memoir and more like a collection of tiny essays. Chapters — sometimes only a page long — are organized into larger parts that are focused on central themes: for example, her background, her day-to-day obstacles, her relationships. Timelines can sometimes be messy, but it worked for me. I could see myself in the future going back to specific mini-essays as are relevant to my own life.

Overall, a definite recommend. Now I need to go back and finish An Untamed State. Dear, Lord, help me. Between that and finishing up Beloved, I'm having one depressing summer.

athompson10 Jul 01, 2017

Very raw and angry and sad. I admire Roxane Gay's writing tremendously and found this book to have her trademark honesty and unflinching look at life. It is sad to read about the violence she has suffered and the damage it has caused her. Minor quibble, I did find some of the book to be repetitive.


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Aug 12, 2017

It is startling to realize that even Oprah, a woman in her early sixties, a billionaire and one of the most famous women in the world, isn't happy with herself, her body. That is how pervasive damaging cultural messages about unruly bodies are -- that even as we age, no matter what material successes we achieve, we cannot be satisfied or happy unless we are also thin.

Aug 12, 2017

This is what girls are taught -- that we should be slender and small. We should not take up space. We should be seen and not heard, and if we are seen, we should be pleasing to men, acceptable to society. And most women know this, that we are supposed to disappear, but it's something that needs to be said, loudly, over and over again, so that we can resist surrendering to what is expected of us.


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Jul 10, 2017

dani_lacey thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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