An Untamed State

Some brief thoughts on An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay: Gay seems to be the star of the literary world right now, which is cool; I follow her on twitter and have enjoyed her tweets and her online essays for a while now. I’m looking forward to reading her essay collection Bad Feminist when I can. As for the novel, I had mixed feelings about it. This hardly ever happens, but I ended up appreciating the second half more than the first. I don’t want to get too deeply into it and say too much about the plot, but I thought the second half of the novel headed into territory that is newer than what happened in the first. The first half of the novel is pretty hard to take; before you pick this one up, if you are thinking about it, be prepared for some graphic sexual violence. But the story Gay tells is powerful and it brings up interesting issues about parent/child relationships and marriage and power. However, part of my mixed feelings came from feeling unimpressed by the writing, which was plain and occasionally awkward. It’s plain in a way that drew attention to itself, oddly, rather than being plain in order to disappear in service of the plot, which is what the writing in the best plot-driven novels can do. So while I found the novel emotionally moving at times, I didn’t fall in love.

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3 responses to “An Untamed State

  1. Isn’t it always the way? I had never heard of Gay until yesterday and now two of my favourite bloggers are writing about her. I think it’s going to have to be the essays for me; the novel sounds more than I can take. I’m not sure if they’ve been published in the UK but if they have then I must go and talk nicely to my library friends.

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  2. Yes, that is the way! I think the novel is coming out in the UK, but I don’t know yet about the essay collection. My guess is that it will appear there eventually, if not right away. But you can also find many (if not all?) of the essays online if you want to.

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  3. Pingback: The Tournament of Books | Of Books and Bicycles

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