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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

by Carmen Maria Machado

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,908947,343 (3.87)110
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 110 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 98 (next | show all)
i really loved the second and fourth story!! in general this was probably the best short story collection ive read ( )
  mandarinenschaeler | Sep 22, 2022 |
Body-focused horror-tinged stories, most with sf (pandemic, not this one) or fantasy elements (women with ribbons around parts of their bodies that must never be undone, except of course that means the men in their lives demand the undoing). I wanted to say patriarchy-focused, but that’s not really true; it’s more that patriarchy is the air that the characters breathe, even when they know it—mostly they’re focused on surviving their individual situations, if that’s possible. I found the collection much
more depressing than her memoir, which addresses similar situations and even provides versions of some of the scenes in these stories. ( )
  rivkat | Jul 5, 2022 |
The stories in this collection sometimes defy description and often include sci-fi, horror and magic realist concepts, along with various experimental structures. Even with all these trappings, the writing makes them well worth reading; the author has a straightforward voice with viscerally grotesque descriptions. Most of the romantic/sexual relationships described are between women, and a focus on ordinary life and daily routines anchors the stories even with various fantastic conceits, which often illuminate the issues of women with their partners, the world and their own bodies.

“The Husband Stitch” is a fantastic opener, describing a woman’s happy marriage and family with reference to well-known horror stories.

“Inventory” was another good one–it’s a list of the narrator’s relationships as a pandemic grips America.

“Mothers”, about a woman dealing with being a mother and remembering an abusive relationship, was the weakest story for me–still well written but not as focused.

I loved “Especially Heinous” but can see that it would be a divisive story–it seems to be a description of the episodes of the TV show Law and Order: SVU (I have seen multiple seasons of the show, but this one would probably be less interesting if you’ve never watched it) but eventually starts telling its own story, a Gothic, labyrinthine one filled with ghosts, doppelgangers and possibly sentient cities.

“Real Women Have Bodies” and “Eight Bites” are involving stories, even if the supernatural events in them are a bit on the nose.

“The Resident” and “Difficult at Parties” are more grounded–the first is about a writer attending an artists’ retreat and the second is about a woman dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic experience–but they have an uncanny feel, like something is about the leap out of the shadows at any moment. ( )
1 vote DieFledermaus | Jun 1, 2022 |
Beautifully written, interesting perspectives, very timely. Loved it. ( )
  ElspethW | Feb 26, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 98 (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.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Table of Contents: The husband stitch -- Inventory -- Mothers -- Especially heinous: 272 views of Law and Order: SVU -- Real women have bodies -- Eight bites -- The resident -- Difficult at parties
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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.

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Carmen Maria Machado's book Her Body and Other Parties was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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Carmen Maria Machado is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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Average: (3.87)
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