Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Her Body and Other Parties

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
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it was amazing
bookshelves: audiobook, hoopla, read2017, national-book-award-nominees

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 fantastical elements make many of the stories feel even more dangerous than real life, or maybe it's that they highlight the danger of real life. The writing is powerful and I would not be surprised to see this win the award, although I'm still slightly more on board with Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Story by story:

The Husband Stitch - This is a retelling of The Girl with the Ribbon Around her Neck, but somehow the husband is more domineering, and the lengthening of the story brings you more into her point of view.

Inventory - A list of sexual encounters inside the context of a world falling apart due to a virus. This might be my favorite!

Mothers - A disturbing story where I couldn't tell what was real and what was not. A baby delivered by her lesbian partner, told "this is your baby," But then she is running through the park after stranger babies...

Especially Heinous - I could not understand what was going on here, and had to stop and look up some info about the book. The author has taken every episode of SVU, the show that focuses on sex crimes, usually against women, and builds an alternative story where women have bell eyes and something supernatural is going on and I just didn't really get it at all. I'm sure if I had any familiarity at all with SVU the characters at least would make sense to me, but this was rough. And since it was in audio, I couldn't tell if this was a series of very short stories (flash stories) or what I was encountering, because the author keeps the title of each episode and then has a paragraph or a sentence after each. I wish it had an intro or something, at least to navigate the audio verison.

Real Women Have Bodies - If women really grew invisible....

Eight Bites - Well I'm not quite sure, but I think this is about weight loss surgery and the sacrifice of thin and what it does to our daughters? It's rather frightening.

The Resident - This one examines whether female writers are allowed to write about themselves the same way male writers are, what makes something art, how much autonomy do you have as a creative person?

Difficult at Parties - A woman has gone through severe trauma and starts hearing the thoughts of actors on film.. and in the background, a spouse trying desperately to help.
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Reading Progress

April 18, 2017 – Shelved
April 18, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 6, 2017 – Started Reading
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: hoopla
October 6, 2017 –
13.0%
October 6, 2017 –
13.0% "The first story is basically a retelling of the classic children's horror story: https://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/f..."
October 10, 2017 –
99.0%
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: read2017
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: national-book-award-nominees
October 10, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

superb review! sounds like a great body of work.


LindaJ^ Your reaction was the exact opposite of mine! I wasn't shocked by it, although perhaps that was what the author had in mind, but I didn't like it.


Navidad Thélamour Fantastic review, Jenny! And thanks for describing each story. I had a BAD reaction to Inventory, a better one to The Husband Stitch, and your review helped me decide on which one to read next!


Navidad Thélamour LindaJ^ wrote: "Your reaction was the exact opposite of mine! I wasn't shocked by it, although perhaps that was what the author had in mind, but I didn't like it."

So far, I'm not shocked by it either. My buddy reader and I have actually used the word "underwhelmed" so far. :/ ESPECIALLY with Inventory! Hopefully, it gets better, but by your review, maybe not? We'll see!


message 5: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Scott Great review. I don't read many short story collections, but this one sounds interesting. The fact that it's a NBA finalist helps, too.


Jenny (Reading Envy) Coffee Shop Book Reviews wrote: "Great review. I don't read many short story collections, but this one sounds interesting. The fact that it's a NBA finalist helps, too."
I tend to struggle with short story collections but this one caught me!


Lily Great review


message 8: by Crumb (new)

Crumb Jenny.. would you say this book is about feminism?


Jenny (Reading Envy) Crumb wrote: "Jenny.. would you say this book is about feminism?"
It has feminist themes.


message 10: by Crumb (new)

Crumb Thanks!


message 11: by Jan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jan Thanks so much for this review, Jenny! I have come back to it as I’ve started each story. Really an interesting and disturbing book!


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