BINGO – Reader’s Choice in place of Home
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado has compiled eight short stories that are all unabashedly queer and horrifying. Much like Mariana Enriquez, another Latina short story horror writer I’ve read this year, Machado erases the line between the natural and supernatural. Magical realism floods every sentence. Whereas Enriquez’s stories tend to focus on social structures and politics, Machado focuses on sex and gender identity.
In these short stories, Machado manages to illicit dread and tension with every sentence. I was uneasy at nearly all times in each story even without gore or outright horror. But don’t get me wrong, Machado doesn’t skimp on that either. There is murder, women being sewn into dresses, a pandemic, infanticide ideation, physical assault, and some body horror. This collection is not for the faint of heart, but the horror and unease are worth it to read Machado’s prose.
Avg: 4.25/5 but I’m rounding my rating up to 5/5 due to the overall cohesiveness of this collection of short stories. The themes of sex, womanhood, and death permeate throughout. Machado explores these themes and their implications on the world in different ways in each story. Nothing ever feels stale or over-done.
“The Husband Stitch” 4/5
A wife and mother navigates her way through life giving herself over to her husband and child more and more, yet nothing is ever enough with this ribbon tied around her neck. What could possibly go wrong if it’s untied?
“Inventory” – 5/5
A woman details a list of her sexual partners while surviving a pandemic.
“Mothers” – 3/5
A woman is left to take care of the baby she managed to conceive with her cisgender lesbian lover though she is extremely ill-equipped to do so.
“Especially Heinous” – 4/5
A series of synopses of fictional episodes of Law and Order: SVU. This one was the weirdest but still so compelling.
“Real Women Have Bodies” – 5/5
Women across the country are evaporating into nothingness and no one knows why.
“Eight Bites” – 5/5
A woman has weight control surgery but is plagued by a demon from her past.
“The Resident” – 3/5
A author goes on an artists’ retreat in the mountains, but things are not quite what they seem.
“Difficult at Parties” – 5/5
A survivor of an assault can her people’s thoughts when they have sex.