Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The Queer Syllabus is a joint project from The Rumpus and Foglifter Press that allows writers to nominate works for a new canon of queer literature. When we identify our roots, when we point to the work that shaped us as writers and as people, we demonstrate that our stories are timeless, essential, and important—and so are we. The Queer Syllabus is edited by Wesley O. Cohen and Marisa Siegel.
Her Body and Other Parties is everything. By which I mean: Her Body and Other Parties is sexy, heartbreaking, spooky, hilarious, expansive, experimental, and tender. It is genre breaking and bold and gorgeously written.
Queer women appear throughout Machado’s story collection. They are young lovers, neurotic writers, heroic detectives, survivalists, doppelgangers, and ghosts. Borrowing the language of fairy tales, these stories are deeply invested in exploring what it’s like to be a woman—often laying bare the horror of living in a world that does not believe women, that makes use of their bodies without their consent, that wishes to ignore and abuse and punish them.
To be a queer woman is often to find yourself made invisible. What do we look like if we are neither slim threesome-having bisexuals or eternally flannel’ed manhaters? And, even if we are, how do we exist behind and around and beyond those narrow concepts?
To read Her Body and Other Parties is to find queer womanhood spliced into familiar settings: the police procedural, the urban legend, the apocalypse narrative, the ghost story. But Machado does more than that. By putting queerness at the center of new fairy tales, she reflects queerness back through the first stories we ever heard as children, and allows queer female experiences to hold space with the fears and desires that have echoed unchanged through time. She reveals what is new in us, and what is immortal. She is my hero.
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