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Her Body and Other Parties

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  44,825 ratings  ·  6,455 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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Carmen My friend, that is the million-dollar question for all of human existence. What IS this all about?
Susannah I think it's a flayed neck - like if you took the top layer of skin off a neck to expose the muscle underneath.…moreI think it's a flayed neck - like if you took the top layer of skin off a neck to expose the muscle underneath.(less)

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  44,825 ratings  ·  6,455 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.
Elena May
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A creepy, beautiful, disturbing tale that will haunt me for a long, long time! A blend of horror stories and urban legends, "The Husband Stitch" explores the implications of a husband trying to control every part of his wife's life and not letting her keep anything private.
– A wife, he says, should have no secrets from her husband.
– I don’t have any secrets, I tell him.
– The ribbon.
– The ribbon is not a secret, it’s just mine.

The story touches on the loss of self in a relationship, a
my becoming-a-genius project, part 2! (and also one of my favorite books of 2020 - see the full list:

in case you missed the first one, here's the description:
i have decided to become a genius.

to accomplish this, i'm going to work my way through the collected stories of various authors, reading + reviewing 1 story every day until i get bored / lose every single follower / am struck down by a vengeful deity.

and yes, i chose this one due in no small part to
You can read this for free: Here from Granta!

Oh my God. This was the best short story I have ever read in my entire life. I'm writing this review in tears, because it was so immensely powerful. My hands are shaking, because this story is so real and so relevant. My stomach is in knots, because I'm not sure any combination of words I will create will do this story justice. This story is very feminist and very sexually explicit, but so damn important. It's about the life of a woman, who gives ever
Felice Laverne
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
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 st
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A unique, experimental book with lovely writing and provocative content. Each story in this collection forces you to think about its themes and come up with your own interpretation for its message. I had to stop after finishing every story and look it up online to read other people's reviews and interpretations. I appreciated how every story explored the different and violent ways that women's bodies are treated, whether that comes from society or themselves. I also appreciated how the author fe ...more
Amalia Gkavea
‘’What magical thing could you want so badly they take you away from the known world for wanting it?’’

This book is one of those cases when you feel someone calling your name. From the enticing cover to the cryptic tale. Naturally, this being a short story collection falling into Literary Fiction, Magical Realism and Gender Studies, finding itself in my hands was unavoidable. This proved to be a very special, extreme adventure.

Machado writes with bravery, clarity, and confidence, centering he
Elyse  Walters
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
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A debut collection of eight surreal stories, Her Body and Other Parties examines the emotional toll of gendered violence upon female interiority. The best of the stories give voice to the frustrations and longings of marginalized women as they navigate a society obsessed with controlling their bodies; the worst prize experiments in form over compelling storytelling, and the tales come across as gimmicky. All the pieces take place against terrifying backdrops—a global plague, the apocalypse, a mo ...more
Taylor Reid
Dec 10, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
I am truly blown away by the talent of Carmen Maria Machado. I find myself floored by her metaphors, deeply pulled in by her prose. I feel in awe of her, really. If you're looking for a good short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties is really special. It's weird and wild, and some of the stories take some time to sort out. But they are great. One of my favorites is available to read on

And if you read it—and you like it—but you can’t tell why you liked it, this article helped
Alok Vaid-Menon
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literature
Queer fiction is vital. Heteronormativity operates by requiring queer people to be immediately explicit – to detail our bodies, lives, + loves such that we can be immediately intelligible to straight society. The coming out narrative is not just a heteronormative fantasy, it is a narrative crisis. Queer writers are pigeon-holed into self-narration because the expectation is that our stories should always be didactic, as if they exist to demystify our sexuality/gender which is already always susp ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
Update: I do not think I was old enough to really get this when I read it (I was 16 and am now 20) so I would like to reread. For now, I will leave this as a four star, but I don't stand by this opinion, frankly.

As a bonus Carmen Marie Machado story worth a read: The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
‘I only know how to scream,’ she said. Marcel placed his hand on her thigh. ‘And that’s all anyone wants from me.’


“I choose this life,” the prostitute says to t
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
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
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Whew... This did NOT work for me. Honestly, 2 stars is generous.
mark monday
It feels strange giving 2 stars to an author with so much undeniable talent. Even more, one whose interests align with my own interests. Machado writes stories where her stylistic skills are front and center - her prose impresses with its elegant craftsmanship, its playfulness, its willingness to tell stories in different ways, its centralization of language itself and the way an author can bend and shape how words are pieced together so that the message package becomes as important as the messa ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars, because this Nebula-nominated novelette is just so well-wrought and hard-hitting, even though I'm not on board with its worldview.* "The Husband Stitch" is a subtly disturbing, sexually explicit and well-written take on the old horror folk tale about the woman who always wears a ribbon around her neck. Machado weaves together old folk tales, urban legends and some meta aspects, where she addresses the reader directly. It's pretty brilliant, actually.

This is a strong and overtly femini
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
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
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
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*long keening noise only uttered in the shadow of a perfect book*
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
A quote from the book that I loved, "god should have made girls lethal when he made monsters of men.--Elizabeth Hewer, was placed before the stories and acts as a theme of sorts.

The first story is a powerful blow to the gut and is a must read, entitled, "The Husband Stitch". I enjoyed "Inventory", and "Eight Bites" very much too. The other stories were not quite as enthralling for me, but they are menacing and disquieting. This writer is gifted and has a very distinct voice. The story, "Especial
Winner of the John Leonard Prize in 2017.

Very well written erotic adventures of a lesbian. Way out there.

4 out of 5 stars
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to destiny ♡⚔♡ by: Melanie
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 reco
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
Kayla Dawn
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't know, I just could not get into any of the stories and it took me a hell lot of willpower to pick this book back up after I put it down lol ...more
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
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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.” 72 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.” 65 likes
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