"In the Dream House," a memoir that braids together the history of queerness and Machado's experience with domestic abuse, has won the Folio Prize.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado was published on this day, October 3rd, three years ago. It was short listed for the National Book Prize in 2017 and for the National Dylan Thomas Prize in 2018.
In this collection of short stories a wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the mysterious green ribbon from around her neck, a woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague spreads across the earth, a salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery about a store’s dresses, one woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted house guest, and in one specially clever short story, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
image via amazon
Here are some of the best quotes from this otherworldly work of fiction:
“Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness.”
What if you colonize your own mind and when you get inside, the furniture is attached to the ceiling? What if you step inside and when you touch the furniture, you realize it’s all just cardboard cutouts and it all collapses beneath the pressure of your finger? What if you get inside and there’s no furniture? What if you get inside and it’s just you in there, sitting in a chair, rolling figs and eggs around in the basked of your lap and humming a little tune? 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? What is worse: writing a Trope or being one? What about being more that one?
“Stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle.”
No one knows what causes it. It’s not passed in the air. It’s not sexually transmitted. It’s not a virus or a bacteria, or if it is, it’s nothing scientists have been able to find. At first everyone blamed the fashion industry, then the millennials, and, finally, the water. But the water’s been tested, the millennials aren’t the only ones going incorporeal, and it doesn’t do the fashion industry any good to have women fading away. You can’t put clothes on air. Not that they haven’t tried.
“They are talking about how we can’t trust the faded women, women who can’t be touched but can stand on the earth, which means they must be lying about something, they must be deceiving us somehow.”
‘It is my right to reside in my own mind. It is my right,’ I said. ‘It is my right to be unsociable and it is my right to be unpleasant to be around. Do you ever listen to yourself? This is crazy, that is crazy, everything is crazy to you. By whose measure? Well, it is my right to be crazy, as you love to say so much. I have no shame. I have felt many things in my life, but shame is not among them.
“I believe in a world where impossible things happen. Where love can outstrip brutality, can neutralize it, as though it never was, or transform it into something new and more beautiful. Where love can outdo nature.”
I will look where her eyes would be. I will open my mouth to ask but then realize the question has answered itself: by loving me when I did not love her, by being abandoned by me, she has become immortal. She will outlive me by a hundred million years; more, even. She will outlive my daughter, and my daughter’s daughter, and the earth will teem with her and her kind, their inscrutable forms and unknowable destinies.
“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.”
Featured image via npr
We’ve all been there: you’re swamped with assignments, essays and exams at school or you’re in over your head at work. Sometimes it can be difficult to find time to read when life gets hectic. Here’s a list of short books for when you don’t have a lot of time on your hands!
image via imdb
This novel will have you on your the edge of your seat throughout, which is important when you’re trying to read in the middle of a busy week. It’s a gripping story of a reporter, recently released from a mental hospital, who is tasked with covering two murders which took place in her hometown. She’s forced to face her self-involved, hypochondriac mother and step-sister and delve deep into her puzzling past in this psychological thriller.
Image Via Random House
This novel fits so much into a small amount of pages, making it a must-read for an overloaded week. In excruciating, devastating prose, Vuong tells a story of family, race and class from the perspective of a son to a mother who can’t read.
Image Via Audible
Woodson tells an intriguing story of the ties that bind a family together after an unexpected pregnancy brought a new child into the world. The writing in this book alone is enough to make it onto your must-read list. Woodson writes with striking honesty while exploring the difficult and important topics of identity, family, class, racism and mother-daughter relationships.
Image Via Audiobooks.com
Her Body and Other Parties is perfect for anyone who loves science fiction and fantasy. A collection of brilliant short stories, this small book will help you get through a busy week while giving you a dose of smart, well-crafted science fiction and psychological realism.
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Her Body and Other Parties is a collection of eight fables that weave between science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Carmen Maria Machado reroutes classic fairytale narratives to portray a series of women nearing sanity’s edge which in turn sheds light on the realities of fear in relationships and in ourselves. Such stories include a woman who realises there are ghosts sewn into the seams of her dress, a woman who has a gastric bypass and is haunted by the body parts she has lost, and a woman who struggles to keep her husband from removing a ribbon from around her neck. Each character has a very abrupt obstacle to overcome that resonates with the reader.
Parul Seghal of the New York Times points out that “In the old myths, women were fenced in by forests, towers, spells. In Machado’s work, cautionary tales are all that’s required. Fear keeps women in line. Their own minds act in the place of the moats.”
These storylines are designed to teach us about our terror instead of casually overstepping it. No simple resolution is offered to her characters and the monsters within all of us are brought to light through them.
Lauren Kane of The Paris Review has said that Machado:
writes with a sincerity I didn’t realize I was missing until I found it in these pages; it’s rare to encounter an articulation of feminist themes that isn’t self-conscious of them…Machado’s work, like her characters, is accessible and nuanced, textured without being overwrought.
I’m excited to read a work heavily influenced by the reworked fairytales of British writer Angela Carter, in which Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf are in fact a couple and Beauty becomes a beast instead. As the Los Angeles Times has said of her talents, “Machado reveals just how original, subversive, proud and joyful it can be to write from deep in the gut, even – especially – if the gut has been bruised.”
Machado is a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award and we have every faith in her to win it! You can pick up Her Body and Other Parties here!
When many of us take a look at our bookshelves, we might not see diversity in terms of the authors that write our favorite novels. There are so many great books coming out this year from diverse writers.
Here are just a few 2017 books from remarkable authors such as Carmen Maria Machado to Jenny Torres Sanchez.
1. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Image Courtesy of Amazon
This debut collection includes a wild novella that reinvents Law & Order: SVU as a tale featuring ghosts and other fantastic creatures. From Graywolf Press, Machado’s first release has been long awaited, and readers should be eager to experience her humorous yet serious take on sci-fi and fables.
2. A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
Image courtesy of Penguin Random House
Old friends Finley and and Betty plan to room together at NYU when Betty suddenly goes missing. Her boyfriend confesses, but the confession is thrown out. Set on discovering the truth behind her friend’s disappearance, Finley is on the case. The problem is the disappearance is much worse than anybody initially imagined.
3. The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Image courtesy of Amazon
After being forced to work in her family supermarket because she used her dad’s credit card, Margot Sanchez must climb her way back up the high school social strata. Plus, there’s that amazing beach party she absolutely, 100% must attend, and nothing will stop her.
4. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Image courtesy of Harper Collins
When two strangers, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, are alerted that they’re going to die that day, they both come up with the same idea. They have to make a new friend. Good thing there’s an app for that. When Mateo and Rufus meet, they must fit as many experiences as they can in the little time they have left. Let’s just hope the title is misleading.
5. Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Image courtesy of Penguin Random House
Dani never felt quite at home at home. Her mother was apparently cold-hearted, and her sudden death didn’t help matters. After her mother’s passing, Dani must live with her previously unknown aunt in New Mexico. Once her relationship with her aunt thaws, Dani learns more about her mother’s story. For better or worse, she has to face the truth.
Featured image courtesy of The University of Cambridge.