Her Body And Other Parties

Adam Mars-Jones writes:

In the acknowledgments to Her Body & Other Parties Carmen Maria Machado strikes a note of respect for her predecessors that isn’t far from abasement: ‘Every woman artist who has come before me. I am speechless in the face of their courage.’ The stories in the book don’t really match this, their attitude being closer to a productive impertinence. In ‘Mothers’, for instance, the narrator watches her girlfriend Bad smoking weed: ‘Her body shuddered along an invisible curve, and the smoke crawled out of her mouth a limb at a time; an animal.’ The narrator, who is perhaps called Good, accepts the pipe for the first time: ‘I felt my whole self loosening, my mind retreating to a place somewhere around my left ear.’ In their altered state the women take a tour of Bad’s old Brooklyn neighbourhood and visit the museum, where they see a table so long it never seems to end, laid with suggestive and flowering plates. A few days later, they’re swimming in the warm water of an island off the Georgia coast, their relaxed chat implicitly referring back to the museum visit.

(LRB 7 March 2019)

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