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In the Dream House: A Memoir

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4.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,206 ratings  ·  248 reviews
A startling, moving, and innovative memoir from the National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses
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Hardcover, 264 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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Average rating 4.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,206 ratings  ·  248 reviews


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Roxane
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With exacting, exquisite prose, Carmen Maria Machado writes about the complexities of abuse in queer relationships in her absolutely remarkable memoir In The Dream House. She deftly chronicles the wildness of succumbing to desire, the entrancing tenderness of loving and being loved, the fragility of hope, and the unspeakable horror when the woman you love is a monster beneath and on the surface of her skin. What makes this book truly exceptional is how Machado creates an archive where, shamefull ...more
Justin Tate
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
YES YES YES!!! A 1000x better than expected, and I expected nothing short of holy scripture.

Months earlier I stumbled upon the description and knew this book would be monumental. As early reviews crept in, my anticipation grew. I had my Kindle fully charged and stayed up until midnight so I could start reading the second it released. By 2am I was 30% done. A few marathon readings later, I reached the last page with breathless finality. The result? Monumental doesn't even begin to cov
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Meike
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2019-read
In this intimate, formally experimental memoir, Machado recalls how she survived an abusive relationship, but gives her own experiences a wider context: As she illustrates by giving examples from real life, art and scientific texts, violence in lesbian relationships has rarely been acknowledged and discussed, thus rendering the victims almost invisible and making them even more vulnerable. With "In the Dream House", Machado wants to add to the archive of stories about the human experience, turni ...more
Collin
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Machado writes in the afterword for this novel,

"In The Dream House is by no means meant to be a comprehensive account of contemporary research about same-sex domestic abuse or its history”.

And yet that is in a way what she has created.. More powerful because of the memoir format in which it is presented.

There are parts of this memoir where you can viscerally feel the fear that Machado feels. The slow grinding down of her spirit from the constant verbal, psychological, and physical v
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Marchpane
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
In the Dream House is a most unmemoirlike memoir. This account of Carmen Maria Machado’s years in an abusive same-sex relationship plays with form, blending elements of literary criticism, pop culture essays, folk tales and the shadowy worlds of her short fiction.

To tell this real-life story, Machado cleaves herself in two: the first-person, present-day “I” – settled, successful, safe – addresses the second-person, past “you”. This textual interplay between two Carmens affords more closeness than
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Ace
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Dream House as Sodom
Like Lot’s wife, you looked back, and like Lot’s wife, you were turned into a pillar of salt, but unlike Lot’s wife, God gave you a second chance and turned you human again, but then you looked back again and became salt and then God took pity and gave you a third, and over and again you lurched through your many reprieves and mistakes; one moment motionless and the next gangly, your soft limbs wheeling and your body staggering into the dirt, and then stiff as a tree trunk a
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Roman Clodia
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a quick read but is alive with intelligence, insight and empathy, detailing how a young woman finds herself, unexpectedly, in an abusive relationship. Machado is honest about her emotions: her vulnerability and desire for love, her retreat in the face of the gradual uncovering of the inner nature of her lover, her pretence and self-deception, her attempts to encourage her lover to get professional help, her final escape.

As well as detailing an intensely personal story, this i
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Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This memoir about emotional and psychological domestic abuse was written in such a unique and compelling way. The author explores the myths and the cultural beliefs that abuse doesn’t happen in lesbian relationships. The memoir is told through multiple vignettes centered around the time her girlfriend lived in a particular house while enrolled in an MFA program. The unique structure bolstered the powerful and impactful writing.
Sarah Etter
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An innovative blend of memoir, research, and cultural commentary that masterfully grapples with domestic violence in queer relationships. I couldn't put it down. Split up into powerful, dense vignettes, In The Dream House just made me cancel all of my plans so I could finish it immediately. So excited to see this one enter the world- one of the best of the year, and one you will not forget. For fans of Ocean Vuong's On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, I think these two books sit really well togethe ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir that plays with structure, that recognizes implicitly that this is a book people will sit down and read, and that understands the world and the record it is coming into. It is a world where we still don't really recognize that domestic abuse takes place in queer relationships, we don't recognize abuse as anything except physical harm from a man acting on a woman. Machado knows she is facing an uphill climb, especially since abuse memoirs have an inherent problem of explaining to ...more
Never Without a Book™
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Soooo, this one I couldn't put down and super easy to read, well kind of (subject matter was a tough one) I'm just...Wow! read this ASAP!
Jackie
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
sometimes, when extremely lucky, i read something that is so incandescent it feels as though i am floating through space and being held by an author’s sentences, their use of language, their way of literally breaking the ground beneath all of our feet to unearth something terrifying but something we need to look at.

i shivered through every page of this book. as a queer sort-of-mostly-woman, seeing a queer woman explore this terrain of intimate partner violence was... so much. we need this book.
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Sarah
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 rounded up

A genre-defying memoir detailing an abusive relationship the author was in, In the Dream House makes for a compelling and thought-provoking read. Machado deftly blends memoir with non-fiction sections about abuse (emotional and psychological) in queer relationships, and I found the book to be both educational and moving. Highly recommended.

Thank you Netgalley and Serpent's Tail/Profile Books for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Allison
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Harrowing, phenomenal, unputdownable memoir. Machado is absolutely brilliant.
Elliot
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't generally read memoirs, but when I got a copy of this book and flipped through it I knew it was going to be something different. And having read Machado before I also knew it would be beautifully written. What I got was something so astonishingly brilliant, so unique, so gorgeous, so visceral, so undeniably raw, it broke my heart and mended it in equal measure. This book absolutely blew me away.

Look, I don't gush very often. I don't give out many 5 star reviews. But this book
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M.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From my review, now up at 4Columns (https://4columns.org/milks-m/in-the-d...

In her new book, and first memoir, Carmen Maria Machado blasts her own experience with an abusive intimate partner into a sparking arc of story bits. Cycling through a staggering array of modes and strategies, In the Dream House wheels in and out of fabulist, formalist, and realist registers, cultural analysis and polemic to produce a fresh and unflinching interrogation of abu
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Lucy Dacus
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There is no readying yourself for this one. Carmen is a modern legend, case closed.
Anna Luce
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

While I definitely admire Carmen Maria Machado for having not only the strength to tackle such a difficult subject matter but to do so by sharing her own personal experience with her readers, and part of me also can't help but to recognise that In the Dream House: A Memoir is one of the most innovative memoir I have ever read, I would be lying if I said (or wrote) that it was flawlessly executed. I'm definitely glad to see that many other reviewers are praising it and or have clearly foun
...more
Amal El-Mohtar
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The difficulty in talking about this book is that I want to say, genuinely, that I could not stop reading it once I picked it up, without feeling gross about being being so irrevocably riveted by someone's description of a horrifyingly abusive situation. But Machado makes such work of it -- such scholarship, such rigorous dexterity, such flexible and tremendous voice -- that its magnetic power is that of her storytelling. Footnotes become grace notes, linking stark or subtle moments to Aarne-Tho ...more
Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are books that have to be such a personal experience to the reader that one must feel compelled to allow each reader to enter the experience with a carte blanche. This is the case with In the Dream House. There’s so much that can be said about the book. It was hauntingly beautiful, it was a format that I didn’t expect, it wrung at my heartstrings and I was left awed at the vulnerabilities that Carmen Maria Machado allowed us to witness. Given the immensity of what she’s sharing, I can’t he ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This powerful memoir subverts form in such a compelling way, one that I think only a mind like Carmen Maria Machado could accomplish.

It’s a series of non-linear chapters, each driven by a narrative trope (i.e. Bildungsroman, noir, erotica), that form an account of Machado’s relationship with a woman who psychologically abused her.

But it’s not only that, it’s Machado “enter[ing] into the archive that domestic abuse between partners who share a gender identity is both possible and not
...more
Paris (parisperusing)
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, 2019
Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House lures us through the onslaught of disquieting experiences she suffered at the hands of her female partner, whose compulsive, controlling, and at times narcissistic nature threatened to unspool the soft fabric of her already fragile sense of safety. Machado recounts their painful love story with alchemic purpose and precision, yet transforms her trauma — long etched into the walls of the figurative Dream House — into something therapeutic. Into something that inform ...more
Kerry
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Take note, personal essayists of the future, because Carmen Maria Machado kinda just threw down the gauntlet. Divided into themed vignettes, IN THE DREAM HOUSE is an amalgam of memoir, feminist theory, pop culture critique and queer history. It's about as sobering a look at psychological violence in domestic partnerships as they come, but Machado's wit, honesty, and absolute mastery of the written word (seriously, pick a sentence at random and marvel) will make you briefly question the merits of ...more
Katherine D. Morgan
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can’t wait for everyone to read this book. I just...Lord.
Guillaume Morissette
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is, somehow, both concise & sprawling. Instead of trying to recreate a relationship in perfect chronological order, it mimics what it feels like to revisit an entire relationship in your head, working from memory, concentrating on key moments without having to articulate every detail, trying to understand the broader narrative of a relationship by tying it to something greater than itself so that it at least has meaning. This is an intellectually curious, intellectually generous bo ...more
Ana
You were not always just a You. I was whole—a symbiotic relationship between my best and worst parts—and then, in one sense of the definition, I was cleaved: a neat lop that took first person—that assured, confident woman, the girl detective, the adventurer—away from second, who was always anxious and vibrating like a too-small breed of dog.

Better than I hoped it would be and perhaps my favourite of everything I’ve read so far this year.
Tracy Robinson
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review to come on Sci Fi and Scary for release day: November 5th
Domenica
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Going to need 5-10 business days to process. Incredible.
Vivek Tejuja
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read a couple of short stories of Machado before picking up this memoir. I was also aware that this memoir, to a very large extent, would make me see my life and what I had gone through in a toxic relationship. Abuse need not be physical. In fact, the worst kind of abuse is the one that isn’t physical. The kind where no bruises are exposed, no scars are seen, no indication of violence is made known, and the one that isn’t heard or we feel that we cannot talk about it, as it is our own doin ...more
Katie
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
When CMM was here last year, a man in the audience at the event asked her how men should write women convincingly, and I guffawed and she laughed and said "yeah..." before trying very kindly to answer his question.

Carmen, whenever you are next in DC, please let me buy you a cocktail and tell you how glad I am that you exist and are writing. I should have stood in line and said it then, and now I've read this wonderful and horrible book too and there is even more to say. Thank you for all of it.
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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
“Reader, do you remember that ridiculous movie Volcano, the one with Tommy Lee Jones? Do you remember how they stopped eruption in the middle of downtown Los Angeles? They diverted it with cement roadblocks and pointed fire hoses at it, and rerouted the lava to the ocean, and everything was fine? Sweet reader, that is not how lava works. Anyone can tell you that. Here is the truth: I keep waiting for my anger to go dormant, but it won’t. I keep waiting for someone to reroute my anger into the ocean, but no one can. My heart is closer to Dante’s Peak of Dante’s Peak. My anger dissolves grandmas in acid lakes and razes quaint Pacific Northwest towns with ash and asphyxiates jet engines with its grit. Lava keeps leaking down my slopes. You should have listened to the scientist. You should have evacuated earlier.” 1 likes
“A reminder to remember: just because the sharpness of the sadness has faded does not mean that it was not, once, terrible. It means only that time and space, creatures of infinite girth and tenderness, have stepped between the two of you, and they are keeping you safe as they were once unable to.” 1 likes
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