Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
challenging, dark, emotional, mysterious, slow-paced
Plot- or character-driven? A mix
Strong character development? It’s complicated
Loveable characters? It’s complicated
Diverse cast of characters? Yes
Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
The Husband Stitch — 5/5 stars
What this world does to girls, how it hurts them while promising that it actually doesn’t hurt at all. How some women carry wounds that are visible and are triggered and jostled in their everyday lives. How some people deliberately reach for those wounds, not caring if it hurts the women. It matters that the husband isn’t a bad man, because this is something that is socialized into all men, regardless of good or bad.
Inventory — 4.5/5 stars
The story I wasn’t prepared for. Too real. The moment where the CDC doctor is saying the epidemic would end faster if people would stay apart and then she goes and has sex with the narrator because human beings aren’t meant to TBR kept apart — painful ans good.
Mothers — 4/5 stars
The romance in here is SWOONWORTHY.
The abuse and anger so perfectly rendered. So real. It crystallizes from salt granules into tall salt pillars. I don’t understand the ending but the love in here, between narrator and Bad, and narrator and her children, especially Mara, is so believable and intense.
Especially Heinous — 5/5 stars
There are so many layers to this I’ve barely begun to untangle it, but I adore it. It moves from an episode summary, or supposedly so, and then it becomes this fascinating digging into what it means to be haunted by horror, by death, by a job, and then it goes a step further and implicates every single viewer of Law and Order: SVU by letting the characters ask, “What kind of world is this, where we are so tired and haunted, and still we are not allowed to rest?”, only to be answered, “Because there is an audience who does not want you to rest. Because they want your pain and exhaustion and your hauntings. They are hungry for it.”
Probably my favorite story of the collection for how it is so beautiful and painful and raw while also raising questions about the media we consume (and why) as expertly as any pop culture essay would.
Real Women Have Bodies — 5/5 stars
Ugh, the pain in this. The poignancy. The tragedy of it all. The lost potential of it all.
Eight Bites — 3/5 stars
Deprivation. Didn’t quite land as hard with me, but the imagery in the last 30% is thought-provoking.
The Resident — 3.5/5 stars
I adore the way past and present collide in there, and the narrator’s voice. The narrator is very engaging, and every one of these residents is fascinating for how completely unable-to-function-around-other-people they are. The narrator finds them so grating I can’t help but feel the same.
Difficult at Parties — 3.5/stars
Painful. Fascinating. I appreciate how it’s a non-voyeuristic story, even as it’s writing around ideas of voyeurism and emotional interiority vs. exterior sexuality.
Read more of my reviews on my StoryGraph.