Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

By Carmen Maria Machado. DEBUT Eight unearthly and imaginative stories comprise this debut story collection. “Especially Heinous” stands out as a peculiar and enchanting retelling of episodes from the TV series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU). With its malevolent doppelgängers mimicking both lead characters, while a host of girls-with-bells-for-eyes haunt the increasingly unhinged detective Olivia, this novella ensures that its readers will never watch reruns of SVU without drawing upon Machado’s novella as a frame of reference. Collectively, the stories reflect the commonplace reality wherein women’s bodies are not their own. Two pieces in particular make this grim connection. In “The Husband Stitch,” Machado puts her own spin on an urban legend wherein a young wife struggles against her husband’s persistent attempts to remove a green ribbon from her neck. In “Real Women Have Bodies,” women have slowly begun to disappear, seemingly without widespread alarm. VERDICTIncluding stories previously published in such journals as Granta and The New Yorker, this brilliant debut compilation showcases a fresh literary voice. Machado’s originality and emotional acumen make her a match for Karen Russell or Kelly Link. Highly recommended.—Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis (sic-fi, fantasy)

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