Her Body and Other Parties

Carmen Maria Machado | 2017 | 257pp

Machado is a new author for me. But, her parents were immigrants from Cuba and she was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, my hometown. This was enough to get me interested in reading her latest collection of short stories.

The book is under 260 pages, with only 8 stories. This makes it a great quick read for the weekend warrior. All the stories are focused on experiences of women. In my opinion, the experiences of women and how men interact with their bodies.

The very first story was probably my favorite. The Husband Stitch is about a young woman born with a green ribbon around her neck. Beautiful, attentive and smart, she’s been told to not remove her ribbon and thats all we’re told. Eventually, the young woman marries and she’s told her husband to never remove it. She cares for him in every other way, bares him a son and yet, he isn’t satisfied because she holds this one thing back. This is a telling thing on marriage but, I won’t voice my grievances with the institution here🙄. The writer also shows us how the violent patriarchy is often passed on by allowing us to witness the son at first, at ease with his mothers ribbon but, after seeing his fathers uncomfort, the little minion mimics his behavior and grows disrespectful to his mother. The story moves to its inevitable end, but since its told from the perspective of the wife, we get to hear her thoughts and secrets and that makes for a good story.

Another stand out was Real Women Have Bodies. Its about 2 women that find each other and fall in love as an epidemic spreads around the world. We learn this particular epidemic is killing women.

Especially Heinous is a satire of everyone’s favorite crime drama, Law and Order and partners, Benson and Stabbler. Benson is the focus and she’s depicted as a super single, dirty apartment dweller, empty frig, suffering judgements from those around her but, still trying to be present for the heinous crimes she has to investigate.

Im not doing the retelling of these stories any justice. They’re told with a tone that lands somewhere between comedic and horrific. Maybe because Im a woman and I uniquely understand the evil hypocrisy and suppression the world serves us daily. Yet, we are expected to continue loving and caring. Its both funny and horrific.

A very interesting read worth pushing through the tough parts and sticking with it until the end. Months after reading this, I feel like the author held a mirror up to women and said, ‘see how beautiful and ridiculous and horrific you are?’. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Goodbook #53

If this book sounds interesting, read:

Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

Storygraph Summary: In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. In this provocative debut, startling narratives map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited on their bodies.

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 the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted house guest.

Sexy and caustic, comic and cut-throat, Her Body and Other Parties is brilliant, disturbing and exquisite.

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