For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
The shattering memoir In the Dream House from Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) pivots around the small house in Bloomington, Indiana, that Machado’s girlfriend moves into shortly after they meet. This cozy domestic abode soon turns into a harrowing locus of emotional abuse. Short chapter after short chapter initially seem like pieces from five different puzzles as Machado describes the lead up to the relationship, the months of attacks, and the roller-coaster aftermath. But the ultimate picture Machado builds is brave and bold. Machado’s raw language and vulnerability unveils the deep confusion and pain from abuse that falls outside traditional expectations. At the same time, Machado puts her own strengths on display as she refuses to adhere to a memoir’s customary (and comfortable) structure.