How exciting the world of blogging can be!! I recently connected with Emily at The Literary Elephant over books with short stories and ultimately we decided to buddy read Her Body and Other Parties!
Fun fact, this book has been sitting on her shelf and I borrowed mine from my public library (yay for curbside pick up). As I sat looking at it on my stand one day, I noticed on the spine it read, “YA MACHADO.” Uhhhh…there was some confusion on my part, panic thinking I grabbed the wrong book, until I realized, whoops, someone at the library made an oopsie. Don’t worry, I emailed them to let them know so they have it marked when I return it to fix that!!
We both are answering the SAME questions to the book today on our blogs. Please go check her answers out and if you’re here because you already read her answers, have at it!
1) The synopsis of the book describes it as a collection of “startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.” Such violence can be intentional, self-inflicted, unrealized, or without any identifiable culprit. Which of these types of violence do you personally find more frightening?
Personally, I find violence without any identifiable culprit to be the most frightening because you’re left wondering who did it and what they’re doing. Are they around the corner waiting to get you again? Are they doing the same thing to other people? I found the last story in this book, Difficult At Parties, to be like this because I felt like she was being abused in some manner…but we did not know who. Was it her male friend in the story? We don’t know…I speculate it was him, but we don’t know.
2) Would you be more likely to recommend the book to a certain gender? Why?
No. This book was…odd. I think those who enjoy sci-fi, fantasy, and LGBTQ+ tales would enjoy this one the most…male or female. It is written from a female’s perspective, but this book is so bizarre at times I don’t think it really matters.
3) Were there any specific times you personally felt unsettled, creeped out, or genuinely frightened?
No. I think the biggest moment for me came with the first story, The Husband Stitch, where at the end I just went, “Ooooooooooooooooooh.” I never felt unsettled or creeped out in any manner.
4) Do you think the final order of the published stories is a strong one, or would you have rearranged them? How would changing the order of the stories have changed your reading experience of the collection?
This was something Emily and I discussed when we finished this one. We would have both flipped the first story, The Husband Stitch, with the final story, Difficult At Parties. The Husband Stitch ends with you knowing everything in that story (this one may be my favorite), it’s solid, your curious state of mind is satisfied. I felt Difficult At Parties left you with a, well what the heck happened?! What’s the story, what is going on? It left me so high and dry and for the end of the book, just ugh! What a note to be left on!!!!
5) The main characters of these stories trend toward passivity- strange things happen to them, outside of their control, while the few choices they do make are either glossed over or portrayed with a weighted inevitability which suggests there was no real choice to begin with. Do you think this style was effective?
Listen, this book was bizarre…so the style fit. One the stories it best fit with was Real Women Have Bodies (especially fitting given our current pandemic). While a pandemic is running rampant, she is doing what she can while working in a clothing store. It was an interesting story for sure!
6) Did you ever find yourself irritated or bored, and if so, why?
YES! I enjoyed The Husband Stitch, Especially Heinous, Real Women Have Bodies, and Eight Bites…half of the stories. The other 4 were just so out there and I couldn’t get a good grip on them. One story, Inventory, is just a bunch of paragraphs describing various lovers she’s had. That’s it. Sometimes I felt like I was in the middle of a conversation and the other person just stopped talking and you’re like, “Oh, ok, I guess we’re done,” without ever getting any closure. I am fairly certain a lot went over my head with this one and I didn’t get as in depth as I should have…
7) What is your opinion on the author’s depiction of sex throughout the collection?
Interesting…I didn’t find it overly grotesque or uncomfortable like in some books, but I felt like every time it was described, it was being described in a manner like she didn’t want to have it, but felt forced/owed it to the person/had to do it. I never felt like she was doing it because she was seeking it out, I always felt like it was because she felt like she had to…which says a lot. I almost wonder if she was taking the standpoint that as women, we are here to please our men. When you look at everything in the book and reflect, it’s almost sad.
8) In “Especially Heinous” the doppelgänger Henson tells the following story to the DA: “The sixty-fifth story is about a world that watches you and me and everyone. Watches our suffering like it is a game. Can’t stop. Can’t tear themselves away. If they could stop, we could stop, but they won’t, so we can’t.” Why do you think Law and Order: SVU is such a popular show, given that it concerns itself specifically with “sexually based offenses” which “are considered especially heinous?”
Ok, now THIS one was my favorite story!! Side note: I’ve never watched Law and Order: SVU before so I was hesitant about this story, but I loved the flow! As a society, we are obssessed with true crime/crime related shows, so no wonder this show is popular. I just really enjoyed this story as she kept intertwining things that happened in previous episodes into others…is this how the show works in real life??
9) Did you like this book? Did you find it beautiful? Is there a difference between your answers?
I’m not mad I read it…I enjoyed half of it, and honestly, Especially Heinous saved this one for me. It was the longest story, but best one in there. It gave me hope as I hit the halfway mark in the book, haha. A perk for me with this book is the fact that there’s only 8 stories, so it makes this feel like a quick read. I broke down reading this by just reading a story at a time. This was definitely out of my normal realm of books I read, but I’m glad I read it!! I never wanted to stop reading it and mark this as DNF, it peaked my interest enough to wonder, what story will be next! Because for a story I didn’t care for, there was one I really did enjoy. Can’t win ’em all, but I’m so happy I decided to read this one! Our answers vary in quite a few places, but that’s what makes the world go ’round!
I hope you enjoyed this cross over buddy post and please, go check out The Literary Elephant’s post and comment to let us know what you thought!!!