Carmen Maria Machado’s HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES deserves attention
Carmen Maria Machado’s first collection HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES is garnering amazing acclaim.
Carmen Maria Machado follows up being honored as a finalist for The Kirkus Prize with being similarly honored for the prestigious National Book Award.
Kirkus Prize Fiction FINALISTS:
- WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A
MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY: STORIES by Lesley Nneka Arimah
- EXIT WEST by Mohsin
- WHITE TEARS by Hari
- THE NINTH HOUR by
- HER BODY AND OTHER
PARTIES: STORIES by Carmen Maria Machado
- SING, UNBURIED, SING
by Jesmyn Ward
National Book Award Fiction FINALISTS:
- Elliot Ackerman,
DARK AT THE CROSSING
- Lisa Ko, THE LEAVERS
- Min Jin Lee,
- Carmen Maria
Machado, HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES: STORIES
- Jesmyn Ward, SING,
Congratulations to all the finalists.
For THE NEW YORK TIMES, Parul Sehgal praises the work.
“Her Body and Other Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado, is a love letter to an obstinate genre that won’t be gentrified. It’s a wild thing, this book, covered in sequins and scales, blazing with the influence of fabulists from Angela Carter to Kelly Link and Helen Oyeyemi, and borrowing from science fiction, queer theory and horror.
Published just this week, “Her Body and Other Parties” was released in the wake of its success: It’s been named a finalist for the National Book Award and for the Kirkus Prize, and its publisher, Graywolf, has already gone back for a third printing. Not since Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” in 2006, has a debut collection of short stories from a relatively unknown author garnered such attention, or deserved it more.
Sehgal gives special attention to “The Husband Stitch,” which also appears in Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman‘s acclaimed anthology THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY.
The strongest and scariest story here, “The Husband Stitch” — look up the term if you dare — follows a character through marriage, childbirth and childrearing. Running parallel are the gossip and ghost stories she hears about unlucky brides, unlucky pregnant women, women who got in the wrong car, who trusted the wrong doctor, married the wrong man, married the right man. “Stories have this way of running together like raindrops in a pond,” the narrator thinks. “Each is borne from the clouds separate, but once they have come together, there is no way to tell them apart.”
In the old myths, women were fenced in by forests, towers, spells. In Machado’s work, cautionary tales are all that’s required. Fear keeps women in line. Their own minds act in the place of moats.
Fairy tales were meant to inoculate us against dread, or so the theory goes; to offer children controlled exposure to frightening things — to jealousy, to adult sexuality. Terror in doses. Even Angela Carter, who claimed with characteristic relish that her work “cuts like a steel blade at the base of a man’s penis,” wrote some joyous endings. In her telling, Red Riding Hood and the wolf make the loveliest couple.
Machado offers a more complicated solace. She doesn’t contain our terror, she stokes it and teaches us about it.
Nicole Y. Chung in THE WASHINGTON POST includes the book among 9 short-story collections we can’t wait to read this fall.
Blending science fiction, comedy and fantasy, Machado explores violent acts committed against women. From a wife refusing to let her husband control her body to a woman attracting unwanted attention after weight-loss surgery, Machado’s stories inspire horror as well as sympathy. Longlisted for the National Book Award in fiction and a finalist for the Kirkus Prize.
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story