I started reading Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties while sleeping on an air mattress in my sick daughter’s room, which was not the best idea. I knew the stories in the collection were supernatural, but did not anticipate how tense and frightened they’d make me feel. That, combined with worry for my kids in this year of horrible flus, sleep deprivation, and then getting sick myself, intensified the feeling of vague unease and fear. All that is to say: these stories are so good.
They’re ghost stories, though some of them are not obviously supernatural at first. My favorite stories were “The Husband Stitch,” which I’d read a bit about before starting the novel; “Especially Heinous,” which is a sort of meta-fictive take on SVU-type shows that is both frightening in its own way and a provocative commentary on the industry of providing entertainment based on violence against women and children; and “Inventory,” which reminded me of The Road.