Carmen Maria Machado (Profile) 2018, 243pp, RRP $24.99

Machado has somewhat defied description for some time now, with her writing straddling horror, sci-fi, psychodrama, women’s erotica and ‘queer’ genres, and this collection of short stories includes examplesHer Body & Other Parties - Carmen Maria Machado - Profile - The Clothesline of all those literary forms, often mixed up in wonderful and warped fashion.

The Husband Stitch takes an old fairy tale and turns it into something strange and moving and bizarre, while Inventory is a kind of carnal diary that slows down as an apocalyptic event takes effect and Especially Heinous (subtitled 272 Views Of Law And Order: SVU) is a too long, but sometimes wildly weird, listing of an imaginary season of the TV series, if it was invaded by all manner of supernatural, pop-psychological and other forces.

Real Women Have Bodies is a slightly obvious, but nevertheless pleasing, study of our hatred of our physical beings and Eight Bites concerns death (to a point), and then there’s The Resident, which is ostensibly about creativity, but also manages to be a thoroughly peculiar and eerie depiction of life in a pretentious-sounding artist commune. And to cap it all off, there’s Difficult At Parties, which again seems to be feminist in tone and intent, but this time winds up a little baffling.

A sexy, creepy, at times mind-bending selection of tales, this occasionally falls flat and is perhaps very slightly hamstrung by its own ambition – but when it works it works spectacularly. And disturbingly.

Dave Bradley

This title is available through the Allen & Unwin website. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

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