Last Friday the husband an I drove down to Santa Cruz and Bookshop Santa Cruz for an evening with Roxane Gay ---- and it was amazing! First off, I have to thank Ms. Gay for being so engaging that my husband has now become a true fan. (Last author event that I took him to almost lead to our divorce). Ms. Gay was in town to discuss her new collection of short stories Difficult Women. (Just a reminder that I put links in all the books to an independent bookstore so you can pick them up yourself.)
I have been a fan of Roxane Gay for some time. I first read her when she was a judge in the Tournament of Books a few years back. I then started to read some of her non-fiction - and started with her first book - the amazing collection of essays called Bad Feminist. I then read her heart pounding first novel An Untamed State - the story of a Haitian American woman who is kidnapped while on vacation in Haiti visiting family. This book is not for the faint of heart - but I am telling you right now it is a reading experience you will never forget. (And soon to be a movie) I have not read her new collection yet - but I am very much looking forward to being in her world again.
The first thing you should know about Roxane Gay is that she does not pull any punches. She will tell you exactly what she is thinking. This raw truthfulness is so refreshing and at times hilarious. She started our evening together being late - right now Northern California is going through some rain storms that are shutting down our highways. However, it took about two minutes for her to make everyone in the room of just over 200 people feel like she had been there the entire time.
After reading us a few small selections from her new book, she took questions, told stories and kept us all entertained for just over two hours. From Vanderpump Rules - I don't even know if that is spelt correctly - to the current election : Roxane Gay kept me, and more importantly, my husband laughing, thinking, and talking our entire hour ride home. She talked a bit about the fact that she has just finished writing a comic book series for Marvel - a spin off of the Black Panther saga. My husband took the three issues that are out and she gladly signed them for us as well.
Ms. Gay also spoke of her next project - which to be honest I think is going to be her greatest work to date. Her memoir Hunger is coming out later this year - and it focuses on her fight with her weight and her body. Ms. Gay is very honest regarding her struggles with her weight - and for someone that has dealt with this myself - her searing honesty just tugs at all my heartstrings. Roxane Gay is the kind of author that will make you feel uncomfortable with self reflection and self realization, but better for taking the journey with her.
I have met a few authors in my time, and most of them have been amazing. But I will say that Roxane Gay has a way of making you think that she has been you best friend forever. If you don't know much about her start by following her on twitter and you will get to know her - trust me. I do want to share that she recommended two novels that she read last year and loved - The Mothers and Homegoing. As you may know, Homegoing was one of my favorite books of last year. And The Mothers is sitting on my shelf as I type.
This was one of my favorite book events I have ever gone to and I am so thankful to Roxane Gay. I am glad she is producing art in this world and that I get to read it.
As an aside - thank you to Bookshop Santa Cruz for hosting this event. This is one of my favorite bookstores I have ever been to in my entire life. The staff is great and it is really easy to spend money there - wink. Here is a sneak peak at the books I picked up while there.