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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

by Carmen Maria Machado

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1936411,338 (3.89)90
Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction "[These stories] vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange."--Roxane Gay "In these formally brilliant and emotionally charged tales, Machado gives literal shape to women's memories and hunger and desire. I couldn't put it down."--Karen Russell In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode ofLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes. Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious,Her Body and Other Partiesswings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.… (more)
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» See also 90 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
This is a powerful collection of stories; I think I have to revisit them at some point, because I read this book over a long period of time and so that broke up some of the longer pieces--particularly "Especially Heinous," which I think is an inventive and intricate story but which would maybe benefit from being read in a single sitting, and which I did not do. I would say the stories all have a similar feeling/aura to the stories, though they are different enough in feeling to be distinguishable. "Difficult at Parties" is probably the one that hit the hardest for me, but a number of them were very good and moving and eerie all at the same time. ( )
  aijmiller | Jul 9, 2020 |
This book floored me the other day. First off, thanks to Pajiba for highlighting this book in it's best of the bunch year for 2018. The Best and Worst of Cannonball 10 article had this book as the best by Mrs. Smith Reads. It looked interesting based on her description, "Carmen Maria Machado’s collection of short stories is nothing short of perfection, and brings everything I was looking for in a year of reading mostly feminist, female-identified, and woman-positive fiction writers." That sounded right up my alley and thank goodness I read this because it was. Some of the stories read a bit weird to me, but still fantastic and I felt like my brain was flip flopping back and forth between being uncomfortable and enjoying. The only reason why I gave this four stars is that one of the stories, the SUV one went on too long past me caring anymore. Everything else was sublime. Can I say sublime? Eh, I just did it anyway.

The Husband Stitch (5 stars)-Wow. You want to start your collection off with a bang I see. And a bang she did. This story has everything. You may want to prepare yourself with Machado's in your face writing style too. The main character in this one is in tune with her body and her wants. When she meets her now husband she practically wants to crawl inside of him. She gives him all of herself, but holds a piece back. She has a ribbon around her neck that she has asked him not to touch. And though she gives everything, and I mean everything, it still bothers him that this one thing is hers alone. The ending was a shocker. Also men kind of suck. There I said it. You got a perfect woman, but still need to pry? This one read more magical realism to me.

Inventory (5 stars)-Reading about how a plague seems to be wiping out humanity and our narrator recounting that along with her lost lovers. Once again, Machado's style of writing is in your face and aggressive. I seriously wish I had been reading this book in the bath with a glass of ice cold white wine. This story was definitely a mood. This one was definitely more horror influenced.

Mothers (5 stars)-Also horror influenced with some magical realism I think. But also grounded in the real world. A narrator recounts her lesbian lover and the violence she starts to mete out on her. Along the way she starts imagining their new life with children.

Especially Heinous (3 stars)-A short story that focuses on Stabler and Benson from Law and Order SUV. You get the title card of their episode with a short description of what happens. This was too much for me. I think if it had been shorter I would have loved it more. But there was a lot going on in this one and then there were dopplegangers and I tapped out.

Real Women Have Bodies (4 stars)-The woman in this one dealing with the fact that there seems to be a mass disappearance of women all over the world.

Eight Bites (5 stars)-This one got me. Reading about a woman who rejects her body because it's not seen as beautiful and in the end realizing that her body that she doesn't love will be there in the end for it like no one else.

The Resident (4.5 stars)-A woman on a retreat to focus on her writing finds something totally unexpected in the woods she played in as a child. This one definitely had some horror elements wrapped up in it and at one point I thought it was a bit similar to some of King's short stories about writers and what goes on in their heads. The only reason why I give this one 4.5 stars and not 5 stars was because the ending was a bit confusing. I don't know. I need to ask someone about it.

Difficult at Parties (5 stars)-Wow. This one was brutal and a great way to end this collection. Something happens to the woman in this story which I think you can guess at which leaves her feeling alone with a husband (or boyfriend) who is becoming increasingly impatient with her. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I got to the second to last story in this book and I couldn’t do it any more. The writing style was too wordy, the first few stories where good but they just continued to get worse and wore. I’m coming to understand that short story collections just aren’t for me. I really wanted it to work, too because the thought of obscure stories intrigues me, especially when they have to do with woman and their bodies and there’s a hint of feminism behind them. I think it was a great idea but the writing is nothing to be desired. ( )
  AshleyReadsss | Jun 23, 2020 |
Creepy, feminist, vaguely sci-fi stories that really got under my skin. The stories even have a sense of humor, like when a character is described as being "difficult at parties." Machado has a lot of lines like that which perfectly capture some everyday human experience. Those details bring the reader into the strange little worlds of each story. ( )
  nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
Bits of this, I loved. And bits of it, I was meh about. And bits of it bored me. I suppose that's often how it goes with a book of short stories, though for me, this went that way more than most. ( )
  DebsDd | Mar 19, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Machado, Carmen Mariaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Callís, Maria CabreraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Glyder, KimberlyCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landon, AmyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodríguez, Laura SalasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
My body is a haunted
house that I am lost in.
There are no doors but there are knives
and a hundred windows.

-Jacqui Germain
god should have made girls lethal
when he made monsters of men.

-Elisabeth Hewer
Dedication
For my grandfather
REINALDO PILAR MACHADO GORRIN,
quien me contó mis primeros cuentos, y sigue siendo mi favorito

and for
VAL
I turned around
and there you were
First words
(If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices: ME: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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