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Her Body and Other Parties

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  23,339 ratings  ·  3,681 reviews
In her provocative debut, Carmen Maria Machado demolishes the borders between magical realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. Startling narratives map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited on their bodies, both in myth and in practice.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the mysterious green ribbon from around he
Hardcover, 245 pages
Published December 14th 2017 by Serpent's Tail (first published October 3rd 2017)
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3.90  · 
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 ·  23,339 ratings  ·  3,681 reviews

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Emily May
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Navidad Thélamour
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
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
Larry H
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amalia Gavea
‘’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 her
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.

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 pie
Cindy Pham
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Joe Valdez
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthology, fantasy
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
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Paula Kalin
Winner of the John Leonard Prize in 2017.

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

4 out of 5 stars
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*long keening noise only uttered in the shadow of a perfect book*
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
An uneven but intermittently superb collection of stories about female dislocation, in which America's obsessive anxiety about gender is refracted through a series of different formats, from fantasy to horror to experimental playfulness.

The opening story, ‘The Husband Stitch’ (a version of which can be read online), is a kind of erotic and violent folktale which inevitably brings Angela Carter to mind, and which doesn't suffer from the comparison. I loved it, finding it creepy and sexy and meani
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dannii Elle
Whilst not every short story collected here worked for me, I highly appreciated the queer and feminist vibes on every single page. This blended the fantastical with everyday issues women face and transformed them into a clever and complex assassination of societal issues.

The Husband Stitch - 4.5/5 stars - This first story completely threw me and made me realise that this anthology might not be what I thought it was. I really appreciated the mystery cast over the entire thing and how the possibil
Justin Tate
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
Raeleen Lemay
I REALLY enjoyed the first story ("The Husband Stitch") but the rest of the stories sort of fell flat for me. I really liked how much this highlights queer women and their sexualities/bodies, but the actual stories didn't do much for me.
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
destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 recomm
Krista Regester
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Paul Fulcher
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 &
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of erotic law & order fan fiction
Shelves: best-of-2017, 2018, smut
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
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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
“Many people live and die without ever confronting themselves in the darkness.” 34 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.” 31 likes
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