★ ★ ★ ★
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 enjoyed regardless of how disturbing some were because Machado’s storytelling is powerful, innovative, and like an otherworldly experience. You know when you discover an author’s work and realize it’s something you’ve been missing? Her Body and Other Parties is exactly that.
- The Husband Stitch — A retelling of the classic kid’s creepy story The Girl with the Ribbon Around Her Neck, where all women wear ribbons on some part of their body.
- Inventory — A list of sexual encounters told as a virus spreads across the world.
- Mothers — A disturbing, confusing tale about a woman who is given a baby by her lover who then leaves. It was difficult to depict what was real and what wasn’t in this. While strange and I didn’t quite comprehend it, I didn’t feel complied to because it was still intriguing.
- Especially Heinous — A reimagining with a dark supernatural-magical realism take on every episode of SUV. As a fan of Law & Order: SUV, I was interested in this novella, but it was the only story in the collection that I didn’t care to finish reading.
- Real Women Have Bodies — A haunting story about women who become invisible.
- Eight Bites — A narrator who has bariatric surgery and the sacrifice people make to be thin in today’s society, the impact it has on the mind and fellow females around us
- The Resident — An author spends some time at an artist’s retreat, where things take a strange, disturbing turn.
- Difficult at Parties — A look into a woman’s life after severe trauma and the aftermath when she starts to hear voices of actors in erotic films.
As expected with short story collections, there were some I enjoyed more than others, and some in this collection weren’t easily understood, but they were thought-provoking. Due to that, some descriptions for the stories were not easy to explain without giving away the plot.
A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Graywolf Press
I received a copy in exchange for an unbiased review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.