Her Body and Other Parties

Her Body and Other Parties


Book - 2017
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McMillan Palgrave

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 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.

Publisher: Minneapolis :, Graywolf Press,, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781555977887
Branch Call Number: FIC MAC
Characteristics: 245 pages ;,21 cm


From the critics

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PimaLib_AngharadD Oct 12, 2018

If you're looking for a horror-tinged, feminist work of speculative fiction, look no further. Machado's stories, all told by women, are haunting and compelling. "The Husband Stitch", one of Machado's strongest, is a retelling of the traditional horror story about the girl whose head is held on by a green ribbon, but this time from her point of view. It provokes a consideration of the ways traditional horror stories change if they center the women in them, as complex human beings with thoughts and feelings rather than objects of fascination and horror. Machado's starkly simple turns of phrase stick with the reader: "I'm not hiding it. It just isn't yours" (21). The whole collection of stories is excellent. If you're not comfortable with horror, violence, or sex, steer clear.

Jul 17, 2018

This book was intriguing enough that I finished it in under 24 hours, but overall I don't think I enjoyed it.

SCL_Jenny Jul 05, 2018

I'm happy I read this book, but I can't really say I liked it. I found about half the stories to be powerful, and really resonated with me. Unfortunately, the others fell very flat.The problem may have been that they were too vague/experimental or too low on plot for me to really stay engaged. I went back and forth between reading and listening to the audiobook, and I found I enjoyed the audiobook more. If you enjoy experimental, feminist, LGBT+ fiction, I think you'll enjoy this. If you're expecting science fiction or a heavy focus on magical realism (which is how it was originally described to me), you might be disappointed.

Jun 30, 2018

I loved this book. Not only is it well written but had me guessing, and questioning the whole way through. Each story unique in its own way, playing on the curves of truth, fiction, and your own creative mind. Not at all what I expecting. Highly recommend.

Jun 21, 2018

To echo what a lot of readers have said, this was a little hit or miss for me. The biggest miss was "Especially Heinous" (the Law & Order piece), which unfortunately was also the longest. One thing I did really appreciate was how normalized queer relationships were. Many of the female characters were involved with women, but it wasn't focused on too closely -- you know, as if it was completely mundane. As a queer person, I really appreciated that.

Cynthia_N Jun 11, 2018

I liked Machado's writing style. She definitely keeps you on your toes but this collection was mixed for me. I loved most of the stories but a few of them... SVU I'm looking at you... were really misses for me.

OPL_AutumnH Jun 06, 2018

This book is smarter than I am. I did not understand half of what I read, but I couldn't stop reading it all the same. The stories are super weird and definitely not for the timid, but they're also compelling and thought-provoking. My favorite stories: The Husband Stitch, Inventory and Real Women Have Bodies.

I wanted to like this book, and don't get me wrong there were short stories I did enjoy. However that was only two or three. The rest were just a little abstract for my tastes. I did like the fact that there were diverse relationships. Also The Inventory was probably my favourite story in the collect.

That being said I think the meta experience that was based on Law & Order: SVU really killed my moment and ultimately this this book just wasn't my thing but if you like the absurdly weird stories might be worth a shot.

Mar 02, 2018

Really good, sexually charged, dark, weird fiction. Lots of interesting stories and ideas in this collection. A Must-Read. REALLY didn't like the law & order story, but everyone else seems to love it, and the other stories are amazing, so make up for that one dud.

KateHillier Feb 19, 2018

Here be a whole bunch of really weird stories. A writer's retreat to the protagonist's old Girl Scout Camp takes that old Brownie rhyme to the max. Dresses with the last material you would expect. A woman with a green ribbon around her neck that she will not let her husband touch. A story of a pandemic of some kind told through a list of sexual encounters. Everything is weird and unsettling no matter how innocuous the story. I loved every second of it.

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