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Her Body and Other Parties

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  11,443 Ratings  ·  1,982 Reviews
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 startlin ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Graywolf Press
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Haydee I'm not sure how you define "mundanely insane", but I'll venture a guess and say yes, should be received that way. I just started reading this I was…moreI'm not sure how you define "mundanely insane", but I'll venture a guess and say yes, should be received that way. I just started reading this I was both surprised at how intimate the read feels, and was surprised by the small absurd realism that showed up mixed in with the everyday details. (less)

Community Reviews

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Emily May
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a difficult review to write because I have a lot of mixed feelings.

Her Body and Other Parties is like most short story collections I have read in that some of the stories worked for me far more than others. It is a strange, experimental, feminist collection that often crosses into fantasy, dystopia and/or magical realism. Some of the stories stepped out of the land of weird into, I feel, the land of nonsensical and absurdist. I liked these stories less than the others.

Perhaps it is somew
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The stories in Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange. Her voracious imagination and extraordinary voice beautifully bind these stories about fading women and the end of the world and men who want more when they’ve been given everything and bodies, so many human bodies taking up space and straining the seams of skin in impossible, imperfect, unforgettable ways.
Larry H
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

If you think of works of fiction like works of art, Carmen Maria Machado's debut story collection, Her Body and Other Parties , is an abstract painting. It's undoubtedly gorgeous and attention-getting, there's no one right way to interpret the things you see (or read), everyone will see something different in it, and each time you look, you'll catch something you didn't see the first time. You may also find yourself wondering, "What did that mean?"

Seven of the eight stor
This collection of short stories heavily emphasizes the violence that we put on women’s bodies. Whether it be sexual violence, physical violence, violence put on us by society, or violence we put on ourselves. This entire collection is absolutely haunting in the best way possible. I won’t forget this collection, ever. And these are all so queer, and so feminist, and invoked so many emotions from me. Carmen Maria Machado is beyond words talented, and I feel so very blessed to even have been able ...more
Navidad Thelamour
2.5 stars

Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties is a collection I was so excited to read I dragged a friend in to read it with me. We handed off back and forth who got to pick the next story, never going in order, and found ourselves surprisingly disappointed by each one.

In all honesty, I was drawn to what Machado was trying to do here, to what she was trying to say. But, she didn't say it with enough force. Some of her stories, such as "Real Women Have Bodies" and "Eight Bites" seem
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s 3am...
I really need to fall back to sleep ...
but I couldn’t stop reading these stories so before I drift off..
I’ll just say a few things...

I had read two of the stories yesterday and couldn’t stop talking to Paul about them on our hike yesterday. I was trying to figure them out. They are easy to read - but requires our interpretation.
I just now finished the rest... some were even harder to wrap my head around. These are literary - kinda brilliant- short stories-wh
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I ordered this for my library but grew impatient and listened to it on Hoopla instead. It is one of the finalists for the 2017 National Book Award (USA.)

This is a book of short stories, all centering around the female body, as evidenced by the title. This would not be a book for anyone who shocks easily, as there is sex, a lot of sex, some of it queer sex, and some of it deals with the aftermath of sexual assault. Some of the themes are disturbing, and the insertion at times of supernatural or f
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was really looking forward to this book, ever since I saw a review by Roxane Gay for this; then when I read and loved one of these short stories earlier this year I was even more excited - and I was not disappointed in the least. I absolutely adored these stories and what Carmen Maria Machado has to offer. She writes just the kind of slightly unsettling and very upsetting short stories that I just adore. Her stories are twisted and mean but also beautiful beyond words. They have a core feminis ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
A crazy sometimes conflicting collection of fabulist tales. When this collection works, on tales of women with ribbons on their bodies, sexual encounters during a world ending epidemic, women literally vanishing in their skin and people who can hear the inner thoughts of adult film stars when they are watching porn, it is amazing. But occasionally like with a twist on an America hit series and all it’s nine seasons of episodes or a tale of mothers that gets too other, it lost me a touch. That sa ...more
Joe Valdez
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, anthology
Her Body and Other Parties is the debut book by Carmen Maria Machado, whose movie reviews I was familiar with in the Los Angeles Times. Published in 2017, I bit on this short story collection with the publisher's promise of fiction that "borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism." I found it to be rough in terms of quality control, a talented beginner trying way too hard. The first and second of eight pieces are terrific but everything tha ...more
In her debut collection of short stories, Carmen Maria Machado mingles fabulism, body horror, erotica and feminist commentary. The thrust of Her Body and Other Parties is perhaps best encapsulated by the second story in the book, 'Inventory'. It starts with the narrator cataloguing everyone she's slept with, taking on that now-near-compulsory clinical tone, that Muumuu House type of thing of talking endlessly about sex but doing so in an affectless style that doesn't communicate any passion or j ...more
Elise (TheBookishActress)
“I choose this life,” the prostitute says to the social worker. “I do. Please put your energy into helping girls who aren’t here by choice.” She is so right. She is murdered anyway.

Strange, visceral, but altogether, just too confusing for me.

I would recommend this to those who loved the metaphorical side of Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women. (Before you ask, I was not one of those people.) Because these stories... well, you’re not going to enjoy them unless you get them, at least partially.

And to
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*long keening noise only uttered in the shadow of a perfect book*
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Actual rating: 3.5

Individual ratings:
The Husband Stitch - 5 (by far my favorite in the collection)
Inventory - 4.5
Mothers - 3
Especially Heinous - 2
Real Women Have Bodies - 3.5
Eight Bites - 4
The Resident - 3
Difficult at Parties - 4
destiny ☠ howling libraries
I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.

This anthology isn't so much a collection of stories as it is a collection of experiences. Carmen Maria Machado writes beautifully; her voice is so incredibly unique, and no matter the content of the tale, she transports you right into the scene - for better or for worse. I'll do my best to give you my thoughts on each story, but at the end of the day, this is the sort of collection that I highly recomm
3.5 stars

A scintillating, sexually-charged short story collection that centers the emotions and experiences of queer women. Carmen Maria Machado writes about women's most pressing desires and their most difficult challenges. Almost all of the stories contain some element of fantasy or science fiction, such as women whose bodies disappear or a world that comes to an end because of a terrifying disease. Through these unique, uncomfortable narratives, Machado explores the pleasure and pain of women
Justin Tate
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Let me first say that Carmen Maria Machado is a brilliant writer. All throughout this book I was in awe of her use of language. She's also a visionary. These stories are imaginative, original, and intriguing in ways that far exceed the typical literary output of Iowa graduates.

That being said, the actual storytelling is a mixed bag ranging from flawless to awkward. Many feel bloated, full of content that's unrelated to the general scope of the story. This is probably why the stories are all hard
Coleen (The Book Ramblings)
Her Body and Other Parties is a riveting 8-story collection that is a gritty, provocative debut. It’s a fusion of magical realism, horror, supernatural and fantasy that focuses on women’s lives and their bodies. In general, I am not fond of short story collections, but this is outstanding work. After each story, I had to take the time to process it, because they really make you think and view the world in a new perspective.

It’s an original and electric collection of stories that I thoroughly en
Going into this I was not at all sure I would enjoy it. Novels generally appeal to me rather than a short story collection and anything labelled fabulist or absurdist has me wary. However, I am always pleased to find my preconceptions proved wrong. Within a few pages I knew I loved this. Machado's writing is electric, unapologetically weird and visceral while also feeling on point with the current #MeToo zeitegist.

This is essentially a collection of contemporary fairy tales, the same sense of cr
Krista Regester
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Husband Stitch 5 stars, A tale of tales, spinning old folk stories throughout one important one. How much can one possibly give to someone before it's too much? This was beautifully written.

Inventory 5 stars, This was haunting and unique. An apocalyptic story told through each of the narrator's sexual experiences.

Mothers 3 stars, I'm still a tad perplexed by this one. I wanted to find a clear plot but maybe that's where I went wrong. It was obvious that the narrator was experiencing a hear
Paul Fulcher
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
What’s worse - writing a trope or being one. What about being more than one.

Her Body and Other Parties is a striking collection of short fiction - uneven but at its best quite brilliant (and at its worst - the tedious novella Especially Heinous - best skipped altogether unless you are a fan of the US TV series on which it is apparently based).

A deliberate mash-up of genres - supernatural, horror, erotic, folklore, comedy, LGBTQ, feminist: Machado explains [1]I’m really interested in interrogatin
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of erotic law & order fan fiction
Shelves: best-of-2017, smut, 2018
I kicked off 2018 by reading some of the best of 2017. Here's my list; here's Digg's aggregate top ten list.

"All the Hooters waitresses get pregnant at once. No one will say why. 'This is not really a case,' Benson says, exasperated."

I'm sorry, that gif is just going to be there blinking until you scroll past it or something, but it was also blinking in my head during the centerpiece of this short story collection, which is called "Especially Heinous" and told entirely through capsule descriptio
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa, 2017-read
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book 2017
It's true that Machado managed to write unusual, poetic and multi-dimensional short stories about the female body - she twists and turns a classic format, throwing in a little horror, sci-fi, some urban legends, and lots of pyschology and sex. She is an expert when it comes to creating atmosphere, and she can also be quite funny (it seems to be a minority opinion, but I thought her haunted re-telling of "Law &
Paula Bardell-Hedley
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula by: NetGalley
Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, has marked her out as an effervescent talent in fermentation.

Her gorgeously lubricious, fantastically deranged, genre-twisting stories explore women's bodies and the physical violence all too frequently visited upon them. Her narratives are strewn with surreal situations masquerading as humdrum lives, and many of her characters are propelled into states of half lunacy by their circumstances.

Machado's feminal leitmot
Selene Matheson
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

This book contains several feminist short stories. While I see the point to these stories the language is quite foul and I’m not enjoying that part of these stories.

The Husbands Stitch - 4 Stars
This is a short story about how men feel they have a right to women’s bodies.

Inventory - 3 Stars
This short story is about a woman’s sexual encounters during her life that is based on a post apocalyptic setting.

Mothers - 2.5 Stars
This was an abstract story about a woman and how she came to ra
Julie Zantopoulos
The Husband Stitch: 5 Stars this was my favorite of the book so far and a really impactful and hard-hitting start to this series of short stories.

Inventory: 4 Stars- an interesting look at sex and sexuality in a dystopian type world.

Mothers: 2 stars-too weird and convoluted for me to follow, honestly.

Especially Heinous: 2 Stars- I don't watch Law & Order and this was some strange Benson and Stabler re-write that just didn't connect with me.

Real Women Have Bodies: 5 Stars- holy crap! The
Jaclyn Crupi
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
These stories are 🔥🔥🔥. Jesmyn Ward might be in trouble after all... Machado plays with genre until all that remains are singular stories about women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. These stories are game changers. You need to read this - I can't quite believe what I just read. Also, that title!
Eric Anderson
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Part of what excites me about reading a debut author’s book is the originality of voice I might discover. The short fiction in “Her Body and Other Parties” by Carmen Maria Machado is so wild and inventive with an impressive variation in structure and subject matter shown from story to story. Often they branch into supernatural or surreal territories where women fade away into the stitching of designer dresses or the spirits of dead prostitutes with bells for eyes haunt a female detective. One st ...more
Rebecca Foster
I read 4 out of 8 stories, skipping over the endless Law and Order, SVU one, which felt to me like pure filler. Machado writes bizarre mash-ups of fairy tales and urban legends, most notably in the first story, “The Husband Stitch.” My favorite of the four I read was “Mothers,” about queer family-making and the abuse that lurks under the surface of so many relationships. I loved “Bad” and “Mara” (bitterness) as character names, the random Midwest setting, and the quirky metaphors (“she was seare ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I struggled with these stories. Not because they were too difficult to read but because of their intensity. These are women struggling within themselves, struggling with their perception of themselves, struggling to survive in the world.

The stories are both real and unreal. They are grounded in the world but often take off into mysterious realms. The women are damaged--or maybe they are like many women but more aware of their damage. Obsessed with their perceptions, frightened and sometimes frig
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Eclectic Readers: Episode 43: Her Body and Other Parties 1 23 Dec 14, 2017 01:35PM  
Play Book Tag: Her Body and Other Parties/Machado - 3 stars 3 28 Nov 27, 2017 04:51PM  
Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize, and the Crawford Awar ...more
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“Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness.” 15 likes
“I took a step toward her. "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." The volume of my voice caused me to stand on my tiptoes. I could not remember yelling like this, ever. "You may think that I have an obligation to you but I assure you that us being thrown together in this arbitrary arrangement does not cohesion make. I have never had less of an obligation to anyone in my life, you aggressively ordinary woman.” 13 likes
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