Book Review

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado

Rating: 3.5 / 5

HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES by Carmen Maria Machado is a collection of short stories. It has been critically acclaimed and as such it fulfills a few challenge prompts. It was a Lambda Literary Award winner (a prompt for the #readingwomenchallenge) and it was a National Book Award finalist (a #aroundtheyearin52books prompt). This was therefore my first choice of short stories collections for the #RWM19 bingo challenge.

The stories in this collection often seem to start in a more ‘normal’ normal contemporary world, but gradually shift to something with a twist of fantasy or science fiction. There is a story of a woman who wears a green ribbon around her neck, but in time it becomes obvious that it is more than a fashion choice. Another story at first seems an accounting of a woman’s various sexual partners, but over time it becomes obvious that the life she is detailing is being lived against a backdrop of a world that is ending.

One story, “ESPECIALLY HEINOUS (272 Views of Law & Order: SVU)” is a list of ‘episodes’ of the long running drama with joke-ey episode descriptions. Initially this inclusion was a miss for me as it was lengthy and the story line it develops in the short episode blurbs didn’t hold quite enough interest for me given that this story took up about 25% of the book as a whole. It definitely has the feel of fan-fiction for me.

While each story delves into issues around the female body, some stories are definitely more abstract than others. I can appreciate the lingering questions as to what exactly just happened, but I know that style isn’t for everyone.

As a whole, I enjoyed this collection. I was impressed with Carmen Maria Machado’s writing and her use of language. There is more explicit sexual language than I generally prefer, but I liked the way Machado twisted in different elements of fantasy. I would definitely pick up more from this author!

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