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Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

by Roxane Gay

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1,2907710,248 (4.16)97
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 at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Trigger warning: rape

I really don't have much to say besides go and grab this book to read. This is a painfully honest memoir by Gay. At times I felt like she had mailed me a copy of her diary and said enjoy the read. I wanted to look away at times because it was too much. She tap into the voice that lives in all women to a certain extent telling us we are not good enough time and time again.

If you have read Gay's other works, you may know she was a victim of group rape when she was 12. She goes into this incident and how it caused her to eat and eat in order to protect herself from the world. If she was larger, that would put boys/men off cause they don't find themselves attracted to heavier women. The pain that comes through at times may get to you. It did to me. What I liked most is that Gay offers up her life to us as readers and doesn't hold back. She's brutally honest about how her own actions have led her to where she is today. She's still trying and that's all any of us can do.

Gay goes into her family dynamics, her early schooling, and what drew her to writing. Some parts of this memoir I saw she recreated for some of her short stories I recently finished. This book gave me a richer understanding of those stories now, and I wish I had read this first.

Unlike with most memoirs this doesn't have the author doing some rah rah things are great in my life wrap up. Gay just feels more at peace it seems by the end of this book. She has let us in to see the real her and I for one enjoyed it. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Roxane Gay's memoir "Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body" is brutal. Heartbreaking. Honest. Revelatory.

Her journey will not be the reader’s journey; her story will not be the reader’s story. But for every woman whose reality does not conform to the impossible ideal seen on the glossy pages of fashion magazines, there will be a chapter … a paragraph … a sentence … a phrase ... that hits home; that makes the reader say: Yes. That’s how it is.

Brutally assaulted at the age of 12, by a gang of boys that included her then-boyfriend, Gay withdrew in fear and shame, told no one, and began to protect herself in the only way she knew how – by building a wall out of her own body, by creating a physicality that would protect her against further sexual assault by making her “invisible” to men. She ate to fill the emptiness within her. She ate for the sensual pleasure it gave. She ate when she was bored. When she was nervous. When she was sad. When she was angry.

The result, not surprisingly, was massive weight gain. That, combined with an adolescent growth spurt that topped out at 6’3”, and her indulgence in tattoos, produced a formidable physical presence, backing up a radical feminist outrage over "the toxic cultural norms that dictate far too much of how women live their lives and treat their bodies."

But "Hunger" is not an “accept me as I am because all bodies are beautiful” tale. Nor is it a “how I lost 400 pounds and found love” story. It’s a painfully honest look at how one lives each day in a prison of flesh, knowing all the while that it is a self-built prison – or perhaps a citadel.

Readers may not agree with many of Gay’s choices. They may be particularly appalled at her continuing obsession with the boy – now man – who led the devastating assault on her 12-year-old self. Gay is a work in progress – a human being who was, in her words “broken”, and had to get more broken in order to heal. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | May 31, 2020 |
A very brave memoir. Hits home a lot for me. At one point I was near 400 lbs. I struggle with my weight and took to weightlifting and fight training to both fill in the sag and ensure I'd never endure another insult without consequence. It's not healthy, waiting for the joke, knowing only the threat of physical violence keeps people from saying them aloud. But what I endure is nothing compared to what women like Roxane deal with every day. It's the last taboo. Everyone feels not only entitled to mock fat people but a moral imperative, like they are helping somehow, like your "help" and cruelty isn't something we've had inflicted upon us for life.
It is none of your business. Any more than me telling you to get therapy or plastic surgery or anything else would be. You're not helping. They know they are possibly unhealthy, could be happier, whatever. You're not "telling them the truth they need to hear." You're telling them you can't overlook this to be their friend.
"I just want you to be happy."
That's not your responsibility.
They'll be happier to have friends who accept them.
And you'll be happier too. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
I have so much to say about this book and about how close some of it hit, but I suspect many women who have struggled with disordered eating and cultural beauty norms could say the same. What a beautiful, vulnerable book. Men should read this book. ( )
  jekka | Jan 24, 2020 |
A very raw and fresh perspective on body image. It didn't seem to me that Roxane Gay was making excuse or whining about the state of her body as others have mentioned. She really just states the facts of what her life is like and the situations that have shaped it. Will def work my way through all her writing past and future. ( )
  preetibee | Aug 31, 2019 |
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for you, my sunshine, showing me what I no longer need and finding the way to my warm
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Every body has a story and a history.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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