A review by mgdoherty
Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado

challenging dark emotional mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


The Husband Stitch — 5/5 stars 

What this world does to girls, how it hurts them while promising that it actually doesn’t hurt at all. How some women carry wounds that are visible and are triggered and jostled in their everyday lives. How some people deliberately reach for those wounds, not caring if it hurts the women. It matters that the husband isn’t a bad man, because this is something that is socialized into all men, regardless of good or bad. 


Inventory — 4.5/5 stars 

The story I wasn’t prepared for. Too real. The moment where the CDC doctor is saying the epidemic would end faster if people would stay apart and then she goes and has sex with the narrator because human beings aren’t meant to be kept apart — painful and good. 


Mothers — 4/5 stars 

The romance in here is SWOON. 

The abuse and anger so perfectly rendered. So real. It crystallizes from salt granules into tall salt pillars. I don’t understand the ending but the love in here, between narrator and Bad, and narrator and her children, especially Mara, is so believable and intense. 


Especially Heinous — 5/5 stars 

There are so many layers to this I’ve barely begun to untangle it, but I adore it. It moves from an episode summary, or supposedly so, and then it becomes this fascinating digging into what it means to be haunted by horror, by death, by a job, and then it goes a step further and implicates every single viewer of Law and Order: SVU by letting the characters ask, “What kind of world is this, where we are this tired and this haunted, and still we are not allowed to rest?”, only to be answered, “Because there is an audience who does not want you to rest. Because they want your pain and exhaustion and your hauntings. They are hungry for it.” 

Probably my favorite story of the collection for how it is so beautiful and painful and raw while also raising media questions as expertly as any pop culture essay would. 


Real Women Have Bodies — 5/5 stars 

Ugh, the pain in this. The poignancy. The tragedy of it all. The lost potential of it all. 


Eight Bites — 3/5 stars 

Deprivation. Didn’t quite land as hard with me, but the imagery in the last 30% is thought-provoking. 


The Resident — 3.5/5 stars 

I adore the way past and present collide in there, and the narrator’s voice. The narrator is very engaging, and every one of these residents is fascinating for how completely unable to function around other people they are. The narrator finds them so grating I can't help but feel the same. 


Difficult at Parties — 3.5/stars 

Painful. Fascinating. Appreciate how it’s actually very non-voyeuristic, as a story, even as it’s writing around ideas of voyeurism and emotional interiority vs. exterior sexuality.