“Here, in these short stories, Machado blends horror, sci-fi, fairy tale, gorgeously crafted lines, formal experiments, queerness, sex, and the dissolution of femme autonomy. It’s like if you took Flannery O’Connor and cranked the dark ruptures up to eleven. Or if Stephen King finally discovered the clitoris. But also, it’s not. This book is purely Carmen Maria Machado, and her own voice, unlike any other. “Especially Heinous” started as my least favorite of the stories, an expositional recap of Law & Order SVU, and then descended into this wonderful, horrific, absurd fever-dream, filled with doppelgängers, ghosts, and hell demons. Obvi, it’s now my fave. Any which way, this book is perfect for all kinds of readers. Seasoned writers, creepy YA fans, literary escapists, sci-fi fanboiis, bus-goers, and more. Pick it up and put it down, or guzzle it all in one go. (But what a waste that’d be.) You may wake a new person, or you could totally find yourself in an alternate dimension, with bells for eyes. idk.”
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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 naively 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.