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Her Body and Other Parties
Cover of Her Body and Other Parties
Her Body and Other Parties
Stories
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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.

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.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Carmen Maria Machado's work has appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, NPR, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. She has been nominated for a Nebula Award and a Shirley Jackson Award, and was a finalist for the Calvino Prize. She lives in Philadelphia.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    October 1, 2017

    DEBUT Eight unearthly and imaginative stories comprise this debut story collection. "Especially Heinous" stands out as a peculiar and enchanting retelling of episodes from the TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU). With its malevolent doppelgangers mimicking both lead characters, while a host of girls-with-bells-for-eyes haunt the increasingly unhinged detective Olivia, this novella ensures that its readers will never watch reruns of SVU without drawing upon Machado's novella as a frame of reference. Collectively, the stories reflect the commonplace reality wherein women's bodies are not their own. Two pieces in particular make this grim connection. In "The Husband Stitch," Machado puts her own spin on an urban legend wherein a young wife struggles against her husband's persistent attempts to remove a green ribbon from her neck. In "Real Women Have Bodies," women have slowly begun to disappear, seemingly without widespread alarm. VERDICT Including stories previously published in such journals as Granta and The New Yorker, this brilliant debut compilation showcases a fresh literary voice. Machado's originality and emotional acumen make her a match for Karen Russell or Kelly Link. Highly recommended.--Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 7, 2017
    Machado creates eerie, inventive worlds shimmering with supernatural swerves in this engrossing debut collection. Her stories make strikingly feminist moves by combining elements of horror and speculative fiction with women’s everyday crises. Machado builds entire interior lives through sparse and minor details, turning even litanies of refrigerator contents and free-association on the coming of autumn into memorable meditations on identity and female disempowerment. Queerness permeates these tales, shaping the women and their problems, with a recurring focus on the inherent strangeness of female bodies. These bodies face an epidemic of inexplicable evaporation (“Real Women Have Bodies”), linger as distorted masses beyond weight-loss surgery (“Eight Bites”), or gain the ability to hear the thoughts of actors in porn (“Difficult at Parties”). “The Husband Stitch” makes explicit the hidden sexuality of creepy urban legends. In “Especially Heinous,” Machado rewrites 12 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, riffing on the titles as she imagines Benson haunted by victims, Stabler beset by domestic drama, and both competing with more efficient doppelgangers. Machado’s slightly slanted world echoes our own in ways that will entertain, challenge, and move readers.

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Stories
Carmen Maria Machado
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