Her body and other parties stories
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria MachadoIn 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 womens lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husbands 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 stores prom dresses. One womans 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 naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, 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.
‘Her Body and Other Parties’ gives shape to female stories
She has been decapitated twice, had her right arm sawed off once and been smeared with paint too many times to count. There might be no better illustration of the lasting, unsettling power of fairy tales. Despite efforts to sanitize them or give them a feminist slant, a whiff of something disreputable lingers, something slightly kinky. A wife struggles to keep her husband from untying the mysterious ribbon she wears around her neck. The victim of a violent assault discovers she can hear the thoughts of the actors in porn films. Two women make a baby together — or do they?
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“Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado, is a love letter to an obstinate genre that won't be gentrified. It's a wild thing, this book, covered in.
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The Anxiety That Binds
So I looked up the little capsule descriptions of the episodes, and I was trying to manipulate them to make them surreal, but it was too restrictive. Then I realized that all the titles are one-word titles. And what if I just use the titles? I put only the titles all in a row, and then just started writing and imagining Benson and Stabler. Novelist Kathleen Rooney , writing in The Chicago Tribune , wrote, "In her twistedly original and thrilling debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties , Carmen Maria Machado blends both the terrifying and the horrible into a psychologically realistic and darkly comic mixture. An NPR review also compared her to Angela Carter , and concluded, "Machado seems to answer: The world makes madwomen, and the least you can do is make sure the attic is your own.
Cambridge Wednesday 30th October - Join us for a chat and cuppa with our book group focusing on books with a queer theme. Book club meets on the third floor mezzanine. Free event, all welcome. This was such an empowered collection of feminist short fiction!
While each story can stand alone, every tale adds layers of interpretation to the others, coalescing into a deeply moving exploration of the female psyche that is sensual with much explicit sexual detail and sensitive to the multifaceted experience of trauma. It is interspersed with other urban legends like the hook-handed murderer and the wife who cooks a human liver for her husband, and even the occasional stage direction e. One of my favorite short stories of all time, this work comments on how societal gender roles overemphasize female self-sacrifice and male aggression, which diminishes female independence and establishes inherently unbalanced marriage partnerships. Similarly, Machado also reclaims these stories and female experiences as vitally necessary for a better future, especially as the act of such storytelling and discourse has created a community that thrives independently from patriarchal institutions. And as the narrative build-up would imply, the green ribbon is eventually untied, but not before the story unravels into a worthy finish. The narrative framework is quite interesting and parallels the outbreak of the disease which ironically seems to have spread through sexual contact ; as the narrator lists more people on her list, new victims fall ill.