So after starting and not finishing two books, I decided it was time to tackle a book of short stories. If I have chosen novels or a biography poorly, I like short stories. It’s like eating salt and pepper Kettlechips, before you know it you’re at the bottom of the bag, licking your fingers and wanting more.
I read Difficult Women thinking about the title. Why the word difficult? All of the stories are told by women. The stories range from a story of two sisters who protect each other after being kidnapped as children, to women who have lost a child. One woman literally has her own weather system, and another woman is made of glass. All of these women have difficulties to deal with, and they have all found a response. None of them mold themselves to other’s wishes or ideals. In La Negra Blanca Sarah is a student who works as a stripper to earn her tuition, she protects herself as best she can, but William, a spoiled man-child, succeeds in raping her anyway. She is damaged, but not broken. In Best Features Milly is fat, she understands that with men nothing else matters. “She knows how difficult it is to change the world. She used to try, to change the world, but she learned better.”
Difficult women help each other. There are no cat fights, no intrigue between women. Women exist to help each other. The bond between sisters is particularly strong, as demonstrated in the first story: I Will Follow You. In it two sisters in their 20s lives are intertwined, even though one is married, and the other finishing school. Kidnapped and abused as children, they cling together in adulthood just as they did to survive their kidnapper. Sisters appear in other stories as well, as do friends and even a stranger who gives up her child.
Most of the men in these stories are flawed, some are horrible: kidnappers, rapists,lechery co-workers, others are just inept and dorky. There are a few good men and they stand out for their acceptance of the women as they are, not as someone they want them to be. For the women in the stories with the good guys, it isn’t necessarily easier. Life for these women is more than just their relationship with men, it is their relationship with themselves. And maybe that’s why they are difficult.