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Uncanny Bodies: Carmen Maria Machado and Alexander Chee

Thursday October 19, 2017
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

 

Author, critic, and essayist Carmen Maria Machado’s highly anticipated debut short story collection Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press) has been described as “a strong, dangerous, and blisteringly honest book,” “full of urgent, almost unbearable reality.” Joining Machado to celebrate its publication is her former teacher and award-winning author of Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night Alexander Chee.

 


About Her Body and Other Parties

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

 

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella “Especially Heinous,” Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

 

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.


Carmen Maria Machado is the author of the story collection Her Body and Other Parties (October 2017) and the memoir House in Indiana (forthcoming in 2019), both from Graywolf Press. She is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, The Paris Review, AGNI, NPR, Gulf Coast, Los Angeles Review of Books, VICE, and elsewhere. Her stories have been reprinted in Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Best Women’s Erotica. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, the University of Iowa, the Yaddo Corporation, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her partner.


Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh (Welcome Rain, 2001; Picador, 2002) and The Queen of the Night (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). His first collection of essays, How To Write An Autobiographical Novel, is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2018. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, an editor at large at The Virginia Quarterly Review, and a critic at large at The Los Angeles Times. His debut novel, Edinburgh, won the Iowa Writers' Workshop's Michener Copernicus Prize in Fiction, the Lambda Literary Foundation's Editor's Choice Prize, and the Asian American Writers' Workshop Literary Award. He is recipient of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 Massachusetts Cultural Council of the Arts Fellowship, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Civitella Ranieri, and Leidig House. He serves on the board of directors of The Authors Guild of America.