Her Body and Other Parties

By Carmen Maria Machado,

Book cover of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Book description


'Brilliantly inventive and blazingly smart' Garth Greenwell

'Impossible, imperfect, unforgettable' Roxane Gay

'A wild thing ... covered in sequins and scales, blazing with the influence of fabulists from Angela Carter to Kelly Link…

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Why read it?

8 authors picked Her Body and Other Parties as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I found this story collection by Machado to be not only dark and sad, but wickedly funny. How often does our laughter turn to tears, or vice versa? These things are not mutually exclusive, and Machado lives within that uncomfortably liminal space with obvious relish.

I also appreciate it's unabashed feminism. So much of the horror genre is seen through a male lens that leaves me feeling cold and left out. In Machado's writing, I feel not only seen but celebrated, and I will happily live within her ferociously accepting stories of darkness as many times as she offers them.

This gothic-esque collection of short stories explores so many different forms of grief.

It mainly focuses on tales of women and the kinds of grief that often come from living and moving through the world as women. There is a tale of a young woman whose agency of her own body is breached by her husband removing her mysterious neck ribbon, exploring grief at a loss of trust in a relationship as well as loss of agency.

A woman left alone and isolated in the wake of a deadly global virus, left to grieve the way the world once was.…

When I first read Machado’s short story collection, it felt like someone had shaken me awake, slapped me, poured cold water over my head—the possibilities for what short fiction could do were blown wide open.

It’s hard to categorize this book as “magical realism,” as it is so much more than that: it’s reimagined fairy tales and horror stories; it’s speculative fiction and sci-fi and fabulism; it’s pop-culture experimentation, all seen through a feminist and queer lens.

Most importantly, though, it’s a book where language is treated as something alive and form something to be played with. Standout stories are…

From Jacqueline's list on magical realism by women writers.

If Machado’s debut story collection didn’t itself begin the niche of “genre-crossing books viscerally portraying the experience of living in a female body through the weirdest and most wonderful story premises,” it certainly kicked off a renaissance.

Her Body and Other Parties was a foundational text for my own growth as a young writer, and is a book I recommend to others and return to again and again.

One story, “The Husband Stitch” rewrites an urban legend to question whose perspectives we choose to believe and why, while another infuses the form of Law and Order: SVU episodes with ghostly,…

This is a series of short stories, and while they’re all set in an eerie world adjacent to our own, I have the story “Inventory” specifically in mind for this list. It’s a haunting read that has stuck with me for years now. What it lacks in length, it makes up for in images that have been seared into my brain. I literally cannot tell you more without spoiling it.

One of the most riveting story collections that I’ve read in the past decade is Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties. A virtuoso feat of new wave gothic and totemic feminism, Machado’s collection casts a lantern light on the female-body-as-haunted-house; chambers of secrets that play unsettled host to a litany of dreams and nightmares. “The Husband Stitch” is a psychologically taut remix of the classic horror tale, “The Green Ribbon,” while my favorite story in the collection, “Real Women Have Bodies,” is a dystopic gem in which women, prey to an epidemic of dematerialization, have begun to…

We chose Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties (short stories) for our book club, one day before the news came out that it had been nominated for the National Book Award. A debut collection nominated? It’s that good.

My favorite story (aligning with many) is "The Husband Stitch", which was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novelette. In life, The Husband Stitch is a surgical procedure where more stitches than necessary are used to repair the cut or torn perineum during childbirth so the woman's vagina is tighter to increase her husband's sensation during lager intercourse -…

From tammy's list on queer books across time & genre.

Machado’s provocative short story collection gives us a dark, kaleidoscopic whirlwind of tales, from women literally disappearing into dresses to fat removed from a liposuction procedure haunting a woman’s house. Machado mixes horror, erotica, and science fiction deftly on these pages, with sharp, delicious prose detailing narratives of women who are queer, fat, mentally ill, and will be seen. The patriarchy should quake in the wake of Machado’s bold and singular voice.

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