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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

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Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

valoraciones:
4/5 (117 valoraciones)
Longitud:
265 página
4 horas
Publicado:
Oct 3, 2017
ISBN:
9781555979805
Formato:
Libro

Nota del editor

Wonderfully weird…

Machado’s collection of stories is so wonderfully weird. Genre-bending, uncanny, and often very funny, each of these unusual stories has something poignant to say about being a person and about being an artist.

Descripción

Written by Scribd Editors

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado breaks down the borders between realism and science fiction and between comedy and horror.

In this her debut book, Machado weaves short stories that trace the realities of women's lives and the violence inflicted upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's pleas to remove a green ribbon from her neck. A woman tells of her sexual encounters during a plague. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery in the store's prom dresses. A woman's surgery-induced weight loss leads to an unwanted houseguest.

Machado studied at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her Body and Other Parties was a Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction, won the Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year for Fiction in 2017 and was a PEN/Robert Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction Finalist in 2018.

In these highly original tales, Her Body and Other Parties moves from extremes, from sentiment to violence, and enlarges the boundaries of contemporary fiction.

Publicado:
Oct 3, 2017
ISBN:
9781555979805
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Carmen Maria Machado estudió en el prestigioso Writers’ Workshop de la Universidad de Iowa. Es autora de cuentos y textos ensayísticos y críticos que han aparecido en publicaciones como The New Yorker, Granta, Guernica, Electric Literature, The Paris Review, AGNI, NPR, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books y VICE. En Anagrama ha publicado Su cuerpo y otras fiestas, finalista del National Book Award y del International Dylan Thomas Prize, y En la casa de los sueños.


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Mejores citas

  • Brides never fare well in stories. Stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle.

  • Beyond it, I can see the cottage, a speck on the far shore. I keep thinking I can see the virus blooming on the horizon like a sunrise. I realize the world will continue to turn, even with no people on it. Maybe it will go a little faster.

  • What magical thing could you want so badly they take you away from the known world for wanting it?

  • The moral of that story, I think, is that being poor will kill you. I spend more on my dress than I intend, but it is very beautiful, and better than being dead.

  • What if you get inside and there’s nothing there, and then the door hatch closes and locks?What is worse: being locked outside of your own mind, or being locked inside of it?

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Her Body and Other Parties - Carmen Maria Machado

PARTIES

THE HUSBAND STITCH

(If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices:

ME: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.

THE BOY WHO WILL GROW INTO A MAN, AND BE MY SPOUSE: robust with serendipity.

MY FATHER: kind, booming; like your father, or the man you wish was your father.

MY SON: as a small child, gentle, sounding with the faintest of lisps; as a man, like my husband.

ALL OTHER WOMEN: interchangeable with my own.)

In the beginning, I know I want him before he does. This isn’t how things are done, but this is how I am going to do them. I am at a neighbor’s party with my parents, and I am seventeen. I drink half a glass of white wine in the kitchen with the neighbor’s teenage daughter. My father doesn’t notice. Everything is soft, like a fresh oil painting.

The boy is not facing me. I see the muscles of his neck and upper back, how he fairly strains out of his button-down shirts, like a day laborer dressed up for a dance, and I run slick. And it isn’t that I don’t have choices. I am beautiful. I have a pretty mouth. I have breasts that heave out of my dresses in a way that seems innocent and perverse at the same time. I am a good girl, from a good family. But he is a little craggy, in that way men sometimes are, and I want. He seems like he could want the same thing.

I once heard a story about a girl who requested something so vile from her paramour that he told her family and they had her hauled her off to a sanatorium. I don’t know what deviant pleasure she asked for, though I desperately wish I did. What magical thing could you want so badly they take you away from the known world for wanting it?

The boy notices me. He seems sweet, flustered. He says hello. He asks my name.

I have always wanted to choose my moment, and this is the moment I choose.

On the deck, I kiss him. He kisses me back, gently at first, but then harder, and even pushes open my mouth a little with his tongue, which surprises me and, I think, perhaps him as well. I have imagined a lot of things in the dark, in my bed, beneath the weight of that old quilt, but never this, and I moan. When he pulls away, he seems startled. His eyes dart around for a moment before settling on my throat.

What’s that? he asks.

Oh, this? I touch the ribbon at the back of my neck. It’s just my ribbon. I run my fingers halfway around its green and glossy length, and bring them to rest on the tight bow that sits in the front. He reaches out his hand, and I seize it and press it away.

You shouldn’t touch it, I say. You can’t touch it.

Before we go inside, he asks if he can see me again. I tell him that I would like that. That night, before I sleep, I imagine him again, his tongue pushing open my mouth, and my fingers slide over myself and I imagine him there, all muscle and desire to please, and I know that we are going to marry.

We do. I mean, we will. But first, he takes me in his car, in the dark, to a lake with a marshy edge that is hard to get close to. He kisses me and clasps his hand around my breast, my nipple knotting beneath his fingers.

I am not truly sure what he is going to do before he does it. He is hard and hot and dry and smells like bread, and when he breaks me I scream and cling to him like I am lost at sea. His body locks onto mine and he is pushing, pushing, and before the end he pulls himself out and finishes with my blood slicking him down. I am fascinated and aroused by the rhythm, the concrete sense of his need, the clarity of his release. Afterward, he slumps in the seat, and I can hear the sounds of the pond: loons and crickets, and something that sounds like a banjo being plucked. The wind picks up off the water and cools my body down.

I don’t know what to do now. I can feel my heart beating between my legs. It hurts, but I imagine it could feel good. I run my hand over myself and feel strains of pleasure from somewhere far off. His breathing becomes quieter and I realize that he is watching me. My skin is glowing beneath the moonlight coming through the window. When I see him looking, I know I can seize that pleasure like my fingertips tickling the very end of a balloon’s string that has almost drifted out of reach. I pull and moan and ride out the crest of sensation slowly and evenly, biting my tongue all the while.

I need more, he says, but he does not rise to do anything. He looks out the window, and so do I. Anything could move out there in the darkness, I think. A hook-handed man. A ghostly hitchhiker forever repeating the same journey. An old woman summoned from the repose of her mirror by the chants of children. Everyone knows these stories—that is, everyone tells them, even if they don’t know them—but no one ever believes them.

His eyes drift over the water and then return to me.

Tell me about your ribbon, he says.

There’s nothing to tell. It’s my ribbon.

May I touch it?

No.

I want to touch it, he says. His fingers twitch a little, and I close my legs and sit up straighter.

No.

Something in the lake muscles and writhes out of the water, and then lands with a splash. He turns at the sound.

A fish, he says.

Sometime, I tell him, I will tell you the stories about this lake and her creatures.

He smiles at me, and rubs his jaw. A little of my blood smears across his skin, but he doesn’t notice, and I don’t say anything.

I would like that very much, he says.

Take me home, I tell him. And like a gentleman, he does.

That night, I wash myself. The silky suds between my legs are the color and scent of rust, but I am newer than I have ever been.

My parents are very fond of him. He is a nice boy, they say. He will be a good man. They ask him about his occupation, his hobbies, his family. He shakes my father’s hand firmly, and tells my mother flatteries that make her squeal and blush like a girl. He comes around twice a week, sometimes thrice. My mother invites him in for supper, and while we eat I dig my nails into the meat of his leg. After the ice cream puddles in the bowl, I tell my parents that I am going to walk with him down the lane. We strike off through the night, holding hands sweetly until we are out of sight of the house. I pull him through the trees, and when we find a patch of clear ground I shimmy off my pantyhose, and on my hands and knees offer myself up to him.

I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them. I hear the metallic buckle of his pants and the shush as they fall to the ground, and I feel his half hardness against me. I beg him—No teasing—and he obliges. I moan and push back, and we rut in that clearing, groans of my pleasure and groans of his good fortune mingling and dissipating into the night. We are learning, he and I.

There are two rules: he cannot finish inside of me, and he cannot touch my green ribbon. He spends into the dirt, pat-pat-patting like the beginning of rain. I go to touch myself, but my fingers, which had been curling in the dirt beneath me, are filthy. I pull up my underwear and stockings. He makes a sound and points, and I realize that beneath the nylon, my knees are also caked in dirt. I pull my stockings down and brush, and then up again. I smooth my skirt and repin my hair. A single lock has escaped his slicked-back curls in his exertion, and I tuck it up with the others. We walk down to the stream and I run my hands in the current until they are clean again.

We stroll back to the house, arms linked chastely. Inside, my mother has made coffee, and we all sit around while my father asks him about business.

(If you read this story out loud, the sounds of the clearing can be best reproduced by taking a deep breath and holding it for a long moment. Then release the air all at once, permitting your chest to collapse like a block tower knocked to the ground. Do this again, and again, shortening the time between the held breath and the release.)

I have always been a teller of stories. When I was a young girl, my mother carried me out of a grocery store as I screamed about toes in the produce aisle. Concerned women turned and watched as I kicked the air and pounded my mother’s slender back.

Potatoes! she corrected when we got back to the house. Not toes! She told me to sit in my chair—a child-sized thing, built for me—until my father returned. But no, I had seen the toes, pale and bloody stumps, mixed in among those russet tubers. One of them, the one that I had poked with the tip of my index finger, was cold as ice, and yielded beneath my touch the way a blister did. When I repeated this detail to my mother, something behind the liquid of her eyes shifted quick as a startled cat.

You stay right there, she said.

My father returned from work that evening, and listened to my story, each detail.

You’ve met Mr. Barns, have you not? he asked me, referring to the elderly man who ran this particular market.

I had met him once, and I said so. He had hair white as a sky before snow, and a wife who drew the signs for the store windows.

Why would Mr. Barns sell toes? my father asked. Where would he get them?

Being young, and having no understanding of graveyards or mortuaries, I could not answer.

And even if he got them somewhere, my father continued, what would he have to gain by selling them amongst the potatoes?

They had been there. I had seen them with my own eyes. But beneath the sunbeam of my father’s logic, I felt my doubt unfurl.

Most importantly, my father said, arriving triumphantly at his final piece of evidence, why did no one notice the toes except for you?

As a grown woman, I would have said to my father that there are true things in this world observed only by a single set of eyes. As a girl, I consented to his account of the story, and laughed when he scooped me from the chair to kiss me and send me on my way.

It is not normal that a girl teaches her boy, but I am only showing him what I want, what plays on the insides of my eyelids as I fall asleep. He comes to know the flicker of my expression as a desire passes through me, and I hold nothing back from him. When he tells me that he wants my mouth, the length of my throat, I teach myself not to gag and take all of him into me, moaning around the saltiness. When he asks me my worst secret, I tell him about the teacher who hid me in the closet until the others were gone and made me hold him there, and how afterward I went home and scrubbed my hands with a steel wool pad until they bled, even though the memory strikes such a chord of anger and shame that after I share this I have nightmares for a month. And when he asks me to marry him, days shy of my eighteenth birthday, I say yes, yes, please, and then on that park bench I sit on his lap and fan my skirt around us so that a passerby would not realize what was happening beneath it.

I feel like I know so many parts of you, he says to me, knuckle-deep and trying not to pant. And now, I will know all of them.

There is a story they tell, about a girl dared by her peers to venture to a local graveyard after dark. This was her folly: when they told her that standing on someone’s grave at night would cause the inhabitant to reach up and pull her under, she scoffed. Scoffing is the first mistake a woman can make.

Life is too short to be afraid of nothing, she said, and I will show you.

Pride is the second mistake.

She could do it, she insisted, because no such fate would befall her. So they gave her a knife to stick into the frosty earth, as a way of proving her presence and her theory.

She went to that graveyard. Some storytellers say that she picked the grave at random. I believe she selected a very old one, her choice tinged by self-doubt and the latent belief that if she were wrong, the intact muscle and flesh of a newly dead corpse would be more dangerous than one centuries gone.

She knelt on the grave and plunged the blade deep. As she stood to run—for there was no one to see her fear—she found she couldn’t escape. Something was clutching at her clothes. She cried out and fell to the ground.

When morning came, her friends arrived at the cemetery. They found her dead on the grave, the blade pinning the sturdy wool of her skirt to the earth. Dead of fright or exposure, would it matter when the parents arrived? She was not wrong, but it didn’t matter anymore. Afterward, everyone believed that she had wished to die, even though she had died proving that she wanted to live.

As it turns out, being right was the third, and worst, mistake.

My parents are pleased about the marriage. My mother says that even though girls nowadays are starting to marry late, she married my father when she was nineteen, and was glad that she did.

When I select my wedding gown, I am reminded of the story of the young woman who wished to go to a dance with her lover, but could not afford a dress. She purchased a lovely white frock from a secondhand shop, and then later fell ill and passed from this earth. A doctor who examined her in her final days discovered that she had died from exposure to embalming fluid. It turned out that an unscrupulous undertaker’s assistant had stolen the dress from the corpse of a

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117 valoraciones / 36 Reseñas
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Reseñas de críticos

  • Carmen Maria Machado's collection of stories is so wonderfully weird. Genre-bending, uncanny, and often very funny, each of these unusual stories has something poignant to say about being a person and about being an artist, and in particular about what it's like inhabiting a female body.

    Scribd Editors
  • Carmen Maria Machado essentially broke the literary scene with this collection of wonderfully weird and brilliantly crafted short stories. We often discuss genre-bending authors, but Machado bends the genres she tackles — from fantasy to horror to realism to comedy — so far that they seem to create a new shape altogether. From the secret purpose of a green ribbon tightly wound round a woman's neck, to an artists' retreat that sparks uncomfortable connections, to a dressmaker who discovers the dresses she sews are filled with ghosts, it's very hard to pick a single standout from this collection.

    Scribd Editors

Reseñas de lectores

  • (5/5)
    SOo good. This story collection starts strong with an eerie, modern telling of the Girl with the Green Ribbon story, and every story that follows is bizarre, spooky, strange, and wonderfully written. Most of the stories are very sex-centric, and it says a lot about the quality of the writing that as an asexual reader I was still pulled in and super engaged. My only beef with the book was that the longest story, "Especially Heinous", was the hardest for me to get into and engage with, and I was a bit sad that it took up such a large portion of the book, since I wanted more short stories like all the others in the book! But that's a personal beef. This book is excellent and you should go read it right now.
  • (4/5)
    This was Santathing selection from two years ago - and I finally got around to reading it.These types of books are always an odd one for me. I'm too literal to enjoy some of the stories. I appreciate what the author is doing, and I find the writing to be excellent, but stories that are metaphors for something else and never resolve to a concrete explanation always leave me a bit hanging.On the other hand, there are stories I really enjoyed - specifically "Especially Heinous". I loved everything about it - the oddness of the setting, the ghost girls with Bells in their eyes, the doppelgangers. Its a really wonderful story.So this is a volume I will be keeping and I hope to be giving it a second read. It really deserves the praise it has received.
  • (4/5)
    Terrific collection with real bite. The long story reframing 12 seasons of Law & Order: SVU was actually the least successful for me, but many of the other shorts were impressive, uncomfortable and intriguing. I know it's tough for publishers to market short story collections, but I never mind a new collection from a fresh voice.
  • (3/5)
    An interest collection fused with originality, sensuality, and emotion turmoil. Machado focuses on the intimate details of experience and fuses this into a coherent and truthful, without holding back, set of short stories.

    3 stars.
  • (5/5)
    Every now and then a writer comes along who not only takes masterful command of her medium but has the courage and artistry to penetrate the veil between the superficial world and the realm of the soul. Every once in a miraculous while the publishing world actually gives this writer to readers. In these stories, with authorative clarity, Machado pays homage to gothic horror, modern crime TV, the eerie legacy of the Brownies, the American family dream, and more, all the while also tearing all of it apart and basically showing us our own glistening entrails. Yet that makes the book sound awfully heavy--it is indeed thick with complexities and disturbance, but delicious to read, full of humor, eroticism, and ewwww-gross delights.
  • (5/5)
    ‘’What magical thing could you want so badly they take you away from the known world for wanting it?’’This book is one of those cases when you feel someone calling your name. From the enticing cover to the cryptic tale. Naturally, this being a short story collection falling into Literary Fiction, Magical Realism and Gender Studies, finding itself in my hands was unavoidable. This proved to be a very special, extreme adventure.Machado writes with bravery, clarity and confidence, centering her stories on sexuality and beauty from the perspective of women who do not follow the flow or adjust to society’s demands and conformities. In frank, open, haunting writing, she stresses how the body becomes a projection of the way women have been viewed- and are still viewed- in our societies. Beauty, sexuality, everything is preconceived, even in our modern, sophisticated world. More so now, I believe. Many support- either consciously or not- that you must change when you are different or you will find yourself ostracised. This notion was obviously much more common in the past. In my opinion, today we have a different kind of isolation. The psychological imprisonment, the bullying, the feeling that you simply aren’t good enough. We let others decide and throw parties on our bodies and our souls. Why? Because we need acceptance. What if we don’t find fit the image of beauty and grace others have already cultivated for us?The Husband Stitch: A woman, born with a green ribbon on her neck, finds love and creates a beautiful family. Or does she? A dark tale that becomes darker with references to urban legends and tragic folk myths. Absolutely brilliant.Inventory: A woman remembers past lovers as a deathly virus is slowly destroying the country. Mothers: A very complex story, centered around a horribly dysfunctional relationship, where reality blends with the memories of a shattered mind. This is one of the most powerful moments in the collection.‘’Stabler never told Benson about his little brother. But he also never told her about his older brother, which was understandable, because he didn’t know about him, either’’ (If this isn’t perfect sarcasm, I don’t know what is…)Especially Heinous: Machado imagines plot lines for episodes of the TV series Law and Order: SVU or whatever its name is. Frankly, they are so much better than the actual episodes of the actual series. The only problem is I found this to be completely irrelevant to the overall tone of the collection but it was hugely entertaining.Real Women Have Bodies: Women become mist. Suddenly and without any comprehensible cause. They turn invisible while clothes become alive. This is a story of the complex relationship between us and our bodies which become even more perplexing as we grow up. Body positivity, anorexia, the notion adopted by many men that our bodies are theirs to use as they see fit since the beginning of time. Who and what decides how a ‘’real’’ woman should look like? This is such a beautiful, tragic tale with a beautiful relationship at its heart and haunting descriptions of the misty women.‘’Foxes wove through the streets at night. There was a white one among them, sleek and fast, and she looked like the ghost of the others.’’Eight Bites: One of the most profound stories in the collection. Young women have to undergo surgeries to remain thin. Eight bites. That’s what they can eat. Eight bites to keep the perfect body intact.‘’Do you ever worry’’, she asked me, ‘’that you’re the madwoman in the attic?’’The Resident: This is the most perplexing story in the collection. It gave me quite a lot of trouble in trying to classify it so to speak. A woman finds herself in an old-fashioned hotel, occupied by bohemian artists that are not what they seem. Is it a horror story? An allegory? Probably a combination of the two. It is certainly haunting, sensual and atmospheric but I didn’t find it particularly interesting. If anything, it seemed a bit pretentious.Difficult at Parties: A story of trauma, abuse and obsession that crosses the lines. I found parts of this tale distasteful and, for me, this was the dud of the collection.Despite the (very) few issues, this is a raw, haunting, brave collection. I recommend it without any hesitation but I don’t think it is for everyone. If you are uncomfortable with certain dark thematic elements, there’s a chance you may not enjoy it. However, I know that most of us are brave readers, attracted to dark and controversial themes and to books that make us think….‘’There are strange evenings when the sun sets but it rains anyway, and the sky is gold and peach and also gray and purple like a bruise. Every morning, a fine mist coats the grove. Some nights, a bloody harvest moon rises over the horizon and stains the clouds like an alien sunrise.’’
  • (1/5)
    Good start but then it got weird and not my cup of tea
  • (4/5)
    I am an impatient reviewer. I like to move on quickly to the next book while slowlyly mulling over the last. To stop and write feels like an interruption of this process. However, I was surprised by how many reviewers of disliked "Especially Heinous", I felt it necessary to give it the voice I felt it deserved. Along with, "The Husband Stitch", I felt it was the best story in Machado's novel. There was so much depth and meaning and it was told in the most creative voice. It was filled with insightful depth and symbolism that was so interesting, I reread this story three times.
  • (3/5)
    I'm not typically a reader of short story collections, although I have read a few here & there. This one was available as an audio on Hoopla and has been getting a lot of hype, so I was curious to see what the fuss was about. These are basically short stories about women -- many dealing with sexuality in a variety of ways. The stories are very diverse and often abstract. Lots of surreal, odd, and queer stuff going on. I will readily admit that I really didn't know what was going on in quite a few of these. I started out really enjoying the first couple of stories, but after that I struggled to stay focused and to understand what was happening. My overall feeling is that the majority of these just didn't overly appeal to me and I found the subject matter too weird & confusing. But despite that, I was still quite impressed with Machado's writing, which made me keep reading until the end.I do suspect that I may have enjoyed this more had I not read it on audio. The endings of each story were very abrupt, and there was virtually no audible gap between stories, making it quite difficult to discern when one story ended and the next began. I didn't dislike this collection, and as I said, I thought it was well written, but I think it might take a re-reading to fully appreciate it.
  • (5/5)
    The story collections just keep rolling out and this one is a stunner. Most of these stories, take a provocative look at women's lives and their bodies. There is intimacy, horror, humor and a dash of magical realism. She is being compared to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, and I see some of that here, but I think her "voice" is a true original. Here are just a couple excerpts that I found quite impressive, among many:“On this street, though, I might as well have been on another planet...when the streets are dark and a liquid chill roils through the gaps and alleys. Silence and sound bumped up against each other but never intermingled; the jolly chaos of warm summer nights was as far away as it could be. It was hard to stop moving between doorways in this weather, but if you did you could hear life pricking the stillness: a rumble of voices from a local tavern, wind livening the buildings, sometimes even a muffled animal encounter in an alley: pleasure or fear, it was all the same noise.”“I can tell you with perfect honesty that the night in the forest was a gift. Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness. Pray, that one day, you will spin around at the water's edge, lean over, and be able to count yourself among the lucky.”
  • (4/5)
    I thought this was a great debut collection. There's a freshness to it, along with an ancientness. Machado weaves stories in a way that echoes the style of various of my favourite male writers, but with the added timbre of female experience of the world.The stories in the collection examine the female body, as a symbol of a woman's autonomy and as a symbol of the violence that seeks to remove that autonomy. The stories range from gothic horror to futuristic dystopia, and some don't fit gladly into any genre. Some have appeared in literary magazines, others are published here for the first time.
  • (5/5)
    This was a terrific collection of weird & fantasy short fiction all of which had memorable twists and turns. The most immediately striking was "The Husband Stitch" which builds on various urban myths and legends incl. the green ribbon of In a "Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories" and the missing mother in a Paris hotel room (which I remember Hemingway using in "The Torrents of Spring"). Another favourite was "The Resident" which was probably the most "normal" of the stories and seems like a bit of autobiographical fiction about a writer at an artists' retreat.Oddly, what lingers in my memory now (it has been a couple of weeks since I read it) is the story "Especially Heinous" which at the time of reading was the most difficult part of the book to get through. It is a 13 season episode by episode (22-24 episodes per season or 272 in total) synopsis of a fictional Law & Order: SVU series but one that seems to take place in an alternate universe with doppelgängers and death-eaters and such. It is at times a real chore to drag yourself through it. And yet... it sticks in the mind. You wonder why it was written at all, why was it written the way it was and what did it all mean? I don't know what challenge Machado was setting for herself, but she succeeds in getting under your skin and she leaves you thinking. You can't ask for better writing than that.This was part of Parisian bookstore Shakespeare and Company's inaugural Year of Reading 2018 which is a 12 book subscription series selected and curated by its staff. I have been immensely pleased by the variety of the selections.
  • (1/5)
    Attempted as part of the Indiespensable series. I couldn't finish this book. I have read all of the previous picks back into the 40s but this thwarted my efforts. I don't really like short stories, and these didn't work for me - I gave up in the middle of the Law & Order episodes. I just didn't see the point. No doubt that reflects more on me than the book, but it was unreadable, to me.
  • (4/5)
    Short story collections are difficult to review because they can be so uneven; not perhaps in quality so much, as in the fact that some stories will resonate more with some readers than others. For me, the first two stories, "The Husband Stitch" and "Inventory" were 5 stars. Haunting, evocative stories that were akin to prose poems. These stories spoke to me directly by reproducing nameless feelings that were both familiar and discomforting.All of the stories could be categorized in the realm of speculative fiction: whether fairy tale, gothic, dystopia or fantasy. Most contained candid sexuality, but these scenes were neither erotic nor gratuitous. Some readers might be put off by them, but for me they were as an integral part of each story as they are in each woman's life. Although not my favorite of the stories (perhaps only because of the format) I feel like I will always be haunted by the girls-with-bells-for-eyes from the story "Especially Heinous."I agree with other reviewers that the beginnings of each story could have been better distinguished on the audiobook version. Also helpful would have been a table of contents on the cover that would provide the length of each story so that a listener could plan to listen to each one without interruption. Perhaps the publisher will heed these comments in future editions.
  • (4/5)
    Carmen Maria Machado's book of short stories is an extraordinary collection that references fairy tales with a dark and woman-centered slant that brings to mind both Angela Carter and Kelly Link. From the opening story The Husband Stitch, a dark take on a familiar fairy tale, to a weird and haunting summary of 272 episodes of Law & Order: SVU, to Inventory, a remembering of past sexual relationships against the background of a world ravaged by a pandemic, each story was so different than the one before, although they all shared a stark vision of a world not entirely friendly.
  • (5/5)
    Her Body and Other Parties is a short story collection focused on the horrors of being a woman. I can say quite frankly that it left me disturbed and, as a man, ladies, I am forever in your debt

    A wonderful and creepy read filled with great prose.
  • (3/5)
    Thank you to LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program for the audio copy of this book. It definitely was different from anything else I have ever read or listened to.First, I have to mention the audiobook itself. Like another reviewer, I found very little delineation between the end of one story and the beginning of the next. More than once, I had to rewind to be sure the story was ended and the narrator had begun the next one. Amy Landon was excellent as narrator. I do wish she had been allowed a few seconds between stories.Now. The stories themselves. I'm not sure what to think of them. They were incredibly well written. Carmen Maria Machado's words painted stunning pictures of beauty and horror, daily life and the macabre. The writing was truly superb... it's the stories that I am not too sure about. They all (in one way or another) dealt with female sexuality. While I enjoyed the construction of the stories, I found my mind wandering at times. I am not a fan of explicit sex in books and there was much of that in this collection of stories. However, I believe that the stories would suffer were it left out, as sex and sexuality had a starring role.Not my thing but well done. Recommended for those who like their horror to be on the cutting edge.
  • (5/5)
    The opening story of this collection—The Husband Stitch—is an immediate classic. It does at least three brave things I can’t remember seeing in writing before. And the rest of the collection matches it in creativity and intensity, too. These are potent stories, radiating energy from their first lines. Stunning.
  • (5/5)
    Reading and listening to the story collection “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado is like drinking a mysterious dark wine. These are a rich, multilayered modern fairy tales that are feminist, speculative, and replete with ghosts and fluid sexuality and lots of bodies. Many have deeply unsettling undercurrents of menace but there are also moments of berry-sweet longing and erotic beauty. The first story “The Husband Stitch” is a wonderful retelling of the old campfire story about a girl with a green ribbon around her neck. Machado captures so much truth about living and symbolically dying as a girl, a woman, a wife, and a mother in this story. The longest story briefly re-scripts 272 episodes of Law & Order: SUV in a compelling, disturbing narrative entitled “Especially Heinous”. One of the best of this collection is “Inventory”, a description of a life of lovers by a survivor in a future, plague-ridden setting. Every one of the collection may be read and then re-read as a rewarding experience. Some will haunt you, some will confuse you, and some will leave you feeling something you can’t articulate.I was very fortunate to attend a book event with Carmen Maria Machado. She read us part of a new story ‘in progress’ and she completely captured every one of us in the audience. This woman is a sorceress when she is telling her stories and this collection richly deserved its place on the 2017 National Book Award shortlist.
  • (5/5)
    A wide variety of creative and intriguing stories that kept me consistently engaged. One is about a ladies struggle to connect with others at an artists colony. Another reveals the author;s observations about each episode in a television series. The author (in real life) lives with her female husband but sexuality is not a major component of these short stories. If there is a theme I would see it as how a person must struggle for acceptance no matter what their situation in life and this theme is a universal and one that all readers should identify with. A very well written book.
  • (4/5)
    This collection is so dark and subversive and unsettling and AMAZING. I will definitely read the entire book again, and still may not feel like I quite grasp everything the author wants to convey. Standouts for me include Inventory; The Husband Stitch; Eight Bites.....but there is not a single story I don't want to experience again. Completely absorbing. Very recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I finally read this celebrated book, and it’s quite a read. It’s all at once devastating, complicated, weird, queer, scary, sometimes funny, and the writing was always beautiful. Machado has written about the female experience in a number of different stories, some I enjoyed vastly more than others, some captivating me, a couple dragged on a bit. But this is unlike anything I’ve read before. A book YOU should probably all read!
  • (4/5)
    I'm a wary reader of short stories (but I'm an equal-opportunity reader of novels ;)) and while my experience is limited, I think this collection of stories may be the best I've ever encountered. Some of these stories are fantastical, others dystopian and apocalyptic, but they are all have a grounding in the world we live in today.
  • (5/5)
    An utterly astounding collection of stories - "The Resident" in particular, about a writer on an artist's retreat across the lake from her childhood Girl Scout camp, is going to stick with me for a while.
  • (3/5)
    I had trouble taking bits of this book seriously. It either felt too saucy, or too silly, or too self-indulgent... but I still ended up liking it. The opening story, The Husband Stitch, is the one every reviewer raves about but I much preferred Inventory (50 Shades meets The Road) and Difficult At Parties, which dealt with a stage of trauma I’ve rarely encountered elsewhere. A solid collection about the misery inflicted on women. What could be more timely?
  • (5/5)
    LITERALLY THE BEST SHORT STORY COLLECTION I'VE READ
  • (5/5)
    This collection of short stories contains some of the most disturbing, haunting, and gorgeous writing I've ever read. My dog ate my copy but I will be buying another one. Wow. Setting the bar incredibly high for a debut novel. Dizzying, feverish and obsessive, what an insane ride.
  • (4/5)
    This review is for the HighBridge audio book version of this work, which I received as part of the LibraryThing Early Reader's program. I have never heard or read short stories like these before. I listened in my car, is as my custom, but often found myself so disquieted by what was happening, or going to happen, that I had to turn off the CD player. Ominous, fantastic, erotic, disturbing, and, occasionally, playful, these are, in a word, haunting stories. This collection is full of tormented women, but is the torment purely internal or are there external forces at work? That's left to our imagination.
  • (4/5)


    Pure brilliance. If you have some great stories like this one, you can publish it on Novel Star, just submit your story to hardy@novelstar.top or joye@novelstar.top
  • (4/5)
    An uneven but intermittently superb collection of stories about female dislocation, in which America's obsessive anxiety about gender is refracted through a series of different formats, from fantasy to horror to experimental playfulness.The opening story, ‘The Husband Stitch’ (a version of which can be read online), is a kind of erotic and violent folktale which inevitably brings Angela Carter to mind, and which doesn't suffer from the comparison. I loved it, finding it creepy and sexy and meaningful in all the right ways, with the oppressive mood expertly broken up by flashes of wit – especially in the occasional stage directions Machado provides: ‘If you are reading this story out loud, move aside the curtain to illustrate this final point to your listeners. It'll be raining, I promise.’The rest of the collection didn't always live up to that. It's notable that the stories that work best are the most formally experimental, especially ‘Inventory’ – a zombie-apocalypse story presenting as a list of the narrator's past lovers – and, most notoriously, ‘Especially Heinous’, which takes the form of a TV listings guide to 272 episodes of Law & Order: SVU.Now, admittedly I am a sucker for a gimmick. I loved that PowerPoint chapter in A Visit from the Goon Squad, and I loved this even more. The episodes become dense little bursts of microfiction which can be surreal, funny, or unexpectedly moving:“ᴘʀᴏᴅɪɢʏ”: “Look at me, Dad!” Stabler's daughter says, laughing, twirling. As clearly as if he were watching a movie, he sees her in two years' time, swatting a boyfriend's hands away in a backseat, harder and harder. She screams. Stabler starts. She has fallen to the ground and is clutching her ankle, crying.Or again:“ʀᴇᴅᴇᴍᴘᴛɪᴏɴ”: Benson accidentally catches a rapist when she Google-stalks her newest OkCupid date. She can't decide whether or not to mark this in the “success” (“caught rapist”) or “failure” (“date didn't work out”) column. She marks it in both.Anyone who remembers Charlie Brooker's amazing (now sadly defunct) TVGoHome website will know the potential that can be coaxed out of this kind of format. But I don't want to give the wrong impression: the reason these experimental stories work better than the others is not because Machado's ideas can't stand up on their own or need distractions. It's more that the experimentation forces a certain wit and humour into the writing which otherwise is somewhat lacking – and without that, I felt a few niggles start to creep in.I suppose on some level I find the gender politics a bit dispiriting; there is a faint strand of political moralising which sits uneasily with how the whole book is founded on a presumed mysterious otherness of women, an otherness that is then associated with vulnerability and violence. I felt it sometimes walked a fine line between raising important issues about victimisation, and reinforcing them. (Many reviews, including mine, use the word ‘erotic’ to describe these stories, but actually a lot of the sex is described in that joyless, passive way that has become so de rigueur nowadays; ‘I got wet,’ Machado's characters will say, or ‘I see him, and I run slick’ – but that's it – arousal is reduced to pure physiology.) Another of those Law and Order pieces: “It's not that I hate men,” the woman says. “I'm just terrified of them. And I'm okay with that fear.” This is partly a joke about the interminable sexual violence in L&O:SVU, but in a way it points up a certain gendered acceptance of fear that runs through the whole book. I'm not sure what I think about it.Well whatever I think about it, I think it's fascinatingly expressed here, in these odd, slippery stories that for me were full of unexpected delights.