Roxane! Roxane! Hunger Book Review


Hunger!

I couldn’t wait to read this book. Ever since I read “Bad Feminist” I’ve been waiting. I was hoping to read how or what lead 12-year-old Roxane into a bad situation. Ever since she mentioned that she was raped by a ‘congress’ of baboon she called boys. In “Hunger,” Roxane delivers a story so horrible that the pages kept turning. And when you think you heard it all— and she doesn’t tell it all— in details that you might imagine. But it gets worst for Roxane it gets humiliating.

Hunger Sex

But in those terrible moments, Roxane Gay releases the kind of hero that only arises from the ashes of a terrible fire. Like a “Khaleesi” she will rise up to raise hell. Or burn it down. Now. Knowing what Roxane Gay wrote about some of the sex scenes in “Game of Thorne” I’m apprehensive to make an analogy with Roxane Gay and a popular Khaleesi.

But “Hunger” also is full of disturbing sex and by all mean not gratuitous— by the way, I think the sex in “Game of Thrones” is crucial to the plot, just saying—And besides Roxane Gay talks sex all the time. And she is funny at it. And she will cross the line of decency when she finds it. Thank god.

Just read the crazy stuff she says in her review of, “Magic Mike XXL Recap.” —“My vagina fluttered away from my body, toward the screen and into Magic Mike’s hands.” It’s a funny read. I’m even thinking about watching this movie because of her hilarious review. I mean, where do you see a sentence like … “allowed to be sexual in really ribald ways.” Is this the language of romance novels? Her sidebar is a tribute to managing a dick size.

“Sidebar: I STILL VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!!!” She says.

“By the middle of this foursome, my vagina exploded and resurrected itself three seconds later and exploded again.”

I mean this sentence is straight out of good porn. Oh. Sorry, erotica. And it can be a bad parody of a gang rape. Malik and Mike doing a sexy high five while holding the lucky ladies. Looks cool in the movies with a catchy as hell tune. But in real life “Blurred Lines” and one bad emotional trigger, can move from erotica to rape in a tick.

 

Hunger Expose

However, her review of Magic Mike XXL says allot of what makes Roxane Gay happy. I’m guessing Channing Tatum— D’oh! —Or guys similar, the ones straight out of the romance novels she loved so much. I’m guessing also that that boy who raped her had a lot of the same characteristics of Channing Tatum. I’m willing to bet he wasn’t twelve years old either. But I have to tread carefully here. Clearly, the intent is not the same. But I’m glad that in “Hunger” Roxane Gay is brave enough to expose herself to this. I really don’t know what to call it but she lets it out there to hang, vulnerable. I guess if you can live true this you can conquer anything.

Like Mike Tyson

I may not agree with everything Roxane Gay has to say. I can’t think of what at the moment. But one thing is clear, I like the way she said it. Roxane Gay is honest with her delivery. And she is merciless; her rebuttals are as vicious as a young Mike Tyson’s counterpunch— I follow (@rgay) on twitter— So whatever you say, you have to make sure you have a defense to cover up. There is not much that can survive a Mike Tyson counterpunch— similarly Roxane Gay will fuck you up with that cherub smile of hers.

Swag

Roxane Gay has swag. In “Hunger” Roxane Gay gives a devastating account of her body. And like all swaggers perhaps it’s rooted in some insecurity. But still, she has that swagger. Roxane Gay carries her weight like that of her other New York Bestseller Karrine Steffans’ carries the weight of her Vixen escorts. Like— Fuck It— if you don’t like it you can step. Although Roxane Gays’ is visual and exposed, Karrine Steffans’ is just as exposed and raw.

Besides being women of color who write national acclaim bestsellers, they also share similar childhood tragedies or abuse. And like the rest of us. They used the controlling of sex to resolve those issues.

Sex Crimes

The thing about sex, every partner is a reflection of you. You love them desperately at first, yearning for whatever it is that’s missing in you, and can’t find it in yourself. You soon start to transfer that resentment on to your loved ones! Finding ways for them to punish you—any bullshit— for the shame and anger you hold for yourself. In the end — and it’s a long end—you will have the same disdain for your lover as you do towards yourself. Never willing to admit that to anyone, not even you.

 

What we all have in common is finding ways to justify that shame. And that is what creative people do best. Sublimate. Finding ways to transform lust into something Romantic and culturally acceptable. Also, that lust is masquerading as something other than the fear, anger, and insecurity that gave it life. Yes. We are all a series of contradiction.

Bad Catholic Girl

In “Hunger” Roxane Gay don’t mention directly why a 12-year-old very devout Catholics found herself with the ‘congress’ of baboons that raped her. However, before she got there, she already crossed the line into bad Catholic girl. Her fear that she was going to get in trouble and that she was going to go to hell because she had had premarital sex. Seems a bit after the fact. She did not write about her first sexual encounter. She was already having sex when this boy and his ‘congress’ of baboon raped her. So they are other vices besides food a sheltered kid from the suburbs can get into. Sex with its narcotic splendor is impersonating unresolved issues.

 

Church

Coming from a West Indian background finding a place to do the dirty is hard to do. Our culture doesn’t have an appreciation for privacy rights. In fact, I think “privacy” is a punch line in Caribbean culture. The places were a 12-year-old can hookup with a doubtful 12-year-old older boy is far and few in between. Even cool girls who have the wherewithal to get on contraceptive and buy condoms have to make some serious planning to carry this off. And been stuck between two siblings is even more difficult. Where is your sister? For a good devout Catholic girl— church is a good place to start. The church is probably the only place mom would let her be alone. The other places a 12-year-old can be alone is your big sister or big brother house or at a trusted relative. But most good girls hang out in the church or after church activities. Catholic churches may hide behind their well-earned reputation for seducing alter boy. But girls are just as likely to fall for the attention from someone who is in the position of a surrogate father. They’re experts at playing up the guilt and shame game.

Family

Roxane Gay talks lovingly of her family. So it doesn’t feel like there were any love and attention lacking. Having thought in Middle and High School, I find it hard to believe that a teacher of one of the few good kids — and it’s always a few— would not notice she went quiet and started putting on weight. Not to mention how much they gossip.

“I realized that pretty much everyone in school knew what had happened” — she said.

 

Control

Sex is an act of control. It’s about who controls whom. We may lie to ourselves. But if one looks carefully, most social customs around sex use sex as a way of controlling.

“Hunger” is a sad story. After being brutally raped by this ‘congress’ of baboon 12-year-old Roxane Gay didn’t know she was raped. So much so that she went back again. What did she go back for? Was it for sex or for how the sex made her feel! —Humiliated and ashamed. Why insist on this masochism?

This “boy” left such an impression on her that he becomes the measure for her all other … fucks— I guess?

“I wonder if he knows I have sought out men who would do to me what he did or that they often found me because they knew I was looking. I wonder if he knows how I found them and how I pushed away every good thing. Does he know that for years I could not stop what he started? I wonder what he would think if he knew that unless I thought of him I felt nothing at all while having sex, I went through the motions, I was very convincing, and that when I did think of him the pleasure was so intense it was breathtaking.” I really don’t know what’s this is about.

What we need and why we need its stranger than we think, or it’s common. We spend time with a partner we a hate and in the next breath the pleasure was intense and breathtaking.

Abuse

Recounting her experience with bulimia. The fact that she was bulimic was not the problem — It is, but not for the sake of this story— But what she said about her boyfriend was disturbing. She wanted him to hurt her. She wanted him to abuse her without her consent. To do to her what she hates to see others do to women on The Game of Thrones. This humiliation is a constant in “Hunger” I haven’t read such a disturbing but honest response since Lucy in Jamaica Kincaid’s tale of wanting love.

 

Roxane Gay said that her family wanted to know the name of the boy, Understandably so. The best way to gain control of abuse is to report it to the police. If that’s not possible then you pay that fucker a visit. What kind of father would sit still? Maybe, Mireille Duval Jameson’s—Maybe, I’m reading too much. Roxane said she didn’t want to tell them who he is.

However, she recounts how her younger brother caught them together and blackmailed her. What the hell! So the blackmailing brother knows whom the guy is. This was strange, for me. What is the purpose of this humiliating story? Why the victimization. After all aren’t these folks proud Haitians? Yes. Haiti is the first black republic in the world and the first country in the Western hemisphere to abolish slavery. Haiti with leaders like Jean-Jacques Dessalines, whose motto was, “Cut their heads off, burn their houses.” “Leave nothing white behind you.”

 

So what is “Hunger” about? It’s about good art. “Hunger” reveals in you something that you might not have given much thought too, but gave you a needed trigger. It’s easy to point how Roxane Gay in “Hunger” was not forthright. Just like we can disparage Karrine Steffans and hate Mike Tyson to make us feel better about ourselves. But what Roxane Gay in “Hunger” gives us, is an opportunity to look at our own faults. There’s not that far to go, just look behind our morality. Nowadays, the view is great from the cross. In my case, I just have to look at the above paragraphs. The relationships in your life are not about the others problems. But are about why you choose to bring them into your life. I like “Hunger.” I like to think it’s about Roxane Gay even though I Know better.

 

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About Manuel Palacio

Award Winning Nicaragua Born Artist, Painter, and Sculptor Manuel Palacio. Developed his Art in Bermuda, and Resides in Washington DC. My art is a quest for acceptance. Unfortunately, I guess, like all passions the Arts is driven by this need to feel love and to have a sense of belonging. To feel accepted and understood. Although representative at times it is not always about observations. Rather it’s reflective of the influences of my quest. I’m an American artist whose work developed in Bermuda. I was born in Nicaragua. Culturally I’m West Indian and Hispanic. I celebrate my regions, and it's many cultures.