This Book Will Change Your Life.

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  • This Book Will Change Your Life - Hunger - A Memoir of (My) Body by the Roxane Gay.

    There a lot of us...

    People who read.

    Love books.

    Embrace the independent literary scene.

    Love pop culture.

    Consume social media.

    Who wait on what Roxane Gay is going to write, read, create, say, Tweet.

    Which isn't hard, because it can feel like she's everywhere.

    There she is referenced on Sex Education, which I watch, and appearing on The L Word, which I don't, but which I did, because I read that she was going to be on  that night and I want to experience it.

    But she's also name-dropped in an essay I read somewhere recently about a woman's relationship to her weight and even in East Pittsburgh Downlow by Dave Newman, the book I happen to be reading as I get ready to try and say something about Gay's book Hunger- A Memoir of (My) Body.

    Much of which is to say, that if one is a fan of Roxane Gay's work and presence, as I am, one can both feel like they know so much about her already, while wondering what they can add to the ongoing conversation about her and her work.

    Which is to say, that I feel this way and may be projecting that onto everyone else.

    Early in Hunger (Page 4), Gay writes: "The story of my body is not a story of triumph."

    Hunger is the story of Gay's "unruly" body though, what it's "endured," and how so many people want her to take control of something she cannot take control of.

    Something any of us who follow her on Twitter well know and see.

    It is also the story of Gay making peace with her body.

    And it is a story about trauma, and violence, and the confusion and shame that accompanies such things.

    If one follows Gay, one knows much of this too.

    What feels important then is not the quality of the writing, though Gay is masterly and the prose is raw and punctuated with beauty, or that many of us can feel we know so much of the story already, it's that the story is on paper at all, and in our hands, and brains, and that there is a light being shined on violence towards women, and that there can't be too much light or too many stories of this nature.

    Not when there's so much violence and so little attention paid to it 

    Gay writes how hard it was to write this book and how much that surprised her. And we can all thank her for doing so. Change starts by learning people's stories and seeing that there are real people behind the statistics, people we know, love, and admire. But change is ultimately dependent on engaging with these stories and using the feeling and energy they create in us to take action.

    Parenting differently.

    Crafting policies and new laws.

    Re-structuring institutions. 

    Supporting the organizations that work on behalf of women and those exposed to violence.

    Transforming the communities and culture we live in.

    I didn't intend to write about Hunger on International Women's Day, but I hope we can all take a moment to think about what this day means to all of us and the role we all play in being better partners, listeners, supporters, parents and champions of women's causes and rights.

    I could remind you that reading Hunger will change your life, though that feels more obvious than usual. Still, it will, so please take a moment to think about that as well.