I finished reading An Untamed State by Roxane Gay on the weekend. I read it in one day. The content was extremely gritty (the main character is kidnapped for ransom in Haiti) but the writing was breathtaking.
The book starts with this:
Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.
They held me captive for thirteen days.
They wanted to break me.
It was not personal.
I was not broken.
This is what I tell myself.
And then later in the book:
I was kept inside a glass box inside a glass box inside a glass box. I could see everyone I loved and they could see me. They were happy. They smiled at me as they walked by my glass box inside a glass box inside a glass box. I tried to shatter the glass with my fists and only shattered my bones. I stripped myself naked, pressed my body to the glass. I forced those beyond the glass to bear witness.
I was suspended from an iron bar chained to a vaulted ceiling inside a room inside a room inside a room. The muscles in my arms unraveled. My bones stretched. I grew longer. I grew longer. No matter how hard I swung my body, I never reached a wall.
Ms. Gay’s writing is gritty and real. Not always does this style of writing work but it worked for this book. Gritty and real.