When was the last time a book of short stories kept you up? I started this book (Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado) at 1 a.m. last night thinking I’d read one story…and read every single one. They are strikingly original, terrifying, weird, perverse, sensual, sexy, a strange amalgam of Magical realism, sci-fi, horror, comedy. Machado blends the lines between reality, fairy tale, feminism, and psychological thriller.
I went to bed thinking I’d just read the verbal equivalent of a Frida Kahlo painting.
Machado’s book is a Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction and deservedly so for its uniqueness.
Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction
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 of Law & 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 Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.