Rated 2 of 5 stars
Carmen Maria Machado’s first short story collection does not do it for me. I found the stories to be a bit on the rambling aimlessly, trying to be artistic side. The stories consisted of women who are discovering their bodies, finding love within self and how sex or their vision of sex is distorted by their own personal demons. Here’s a brief rundown by each story:
The Husband Stitch – This was a clever, Edgar Allen Poe-esque story about a woman who has a mysterious bow around her neck and doesn’t or won’t explain the origin or reason for it. Other women in society have it in different locations, fingers, ankles, etc. This woman is married, has a child and a seemingly perfect marriage filled with wonderful, fulfilling sex except that the secret of her bow and why her husband can’t touch it starts to deteriorate the marriage. In a last ditch effort and after her son is grown, she allows her husband to undo the bow and he finds out everything he needs to know.
Inventory – I thoroughly enjoyed this story for its interesting writing. After an epidemic sickness hits the nation, a woman tells her story in fragments that align with who she meets and sleeps with. Through these relationships you start gathering what is happening in the world and how bad things are truly getting. This was my favorite story in the book for its clever storytelling.
Mothers – I enjoyed this story for its complexity yet I still don’t know what the ending actually meant. I had a lot of questions as to what was real and what wasn’t. The story follows a woman who is just given a baby by her ex-mate. As she tries to raise the newborn, she gets overwhelmed and while looking back on her own relationships, she finds her way to her ex-girlfriends place and is confronted by a strange scene or imagining? Not quite sure.
Especially Heinous – This story is taken from different scenes as if from a show of Law & Order: SVU. Since the show is one of my favorites, I felt this story lacking and incredibly too weird for me to get into. It had promising moments but then others that made absolutely no sense. Anyway, two detectives are working a case and have doppelgangers that want their life and dead girls are helping solve their own cases through one of the detectives….yeah, all of the place, I know. Can you imagine how I felt reading an entire story like that?
Real Women Have Bodies – This story was very strange. While it had some definite bright spots in its storytelling, I don’t think the concept was strong enough or interesting enough. The story follows a clothing store clerk who lives in a time where women could literally fade into a mist via some sickness. So everyone is scared of the “vanishing women” sickness. The clerk meets another woman and through their relationship she sees that vanishing women are still around in everything they do but they can’t see them. This realization makes her go slightly mad and she fears for herself and her girlfriend what will happen to them.
Eight Bites – This story of a woman who is infatuated with her weight and wants to look and be skinny. She has three sisters that completed bariatric surgery and are slim and even though they seem miserable, the look is worth it. Their mother, also thin, spews this thought process of 8 bites of food is all you need to stay slim. This has haunted all the girls for their lifetimes. Now as adults they have to defeat their own inner demons in order to truly find happiness with themselves. This story was told in a unique way and I enjoyed it for the most part.
The Resident – The story of a nameless woman who is stuck within her own head after being left in the woods. From that point in her childhood, she has been inside her own head. I’m not sure what to think of this story although it had a creepy factor that I wish was explored. I felt like I was left hanging on what is really going on with the woman and why certain facts stuck out to her as life changing.
Difficult at Parties – A woman who has been through some tragedy (which is never explained) is having mental problems that make her hear voices and have nightmares. Her mate tries to help her through it but she seems very aloof and internal without telling anyone, even the reader, what is actually going on with her. I felt like I could have liked this more if there were links to things made.
Overall, I think the writers style is not one I particularly enjoy. She likes to be randomly poetic but then the story suffers from lack of real description of emotions. I could not rate this story high as the majority of the stories I did not enjoy reading and the ones I did enjoy were not stories I love, just like. I would not recommend this book unless you like obscure stories that leave you hanging.
Raging Book Reviews Not Recommended
*Purchased with my own money for review.