Carmen Maria Machado is no novice: her writing is prolific and varied, from essays on higher education and retail consumerism, fiction on clairvoyance and the afterlife, and criticism on Leonora Carrington and Game of Thrones. In Her Body, Machado flexes that versatility as her characters navigate the emotional landscapes of love, sex, and grief within the contexts of pandemic narratives and ghost stories. Throughout each of the book’s eight stories, Machado uses elements of the fantastic as a vehicle for better understanding the complications and challenges of reality.
It is impossible to know how Machado’s stories would have been received in another era, but in this one, they have reverberated among readers with the prophetic force of a soothsayer’s divinations. “The way she arcs so gracefully from gothic romance to comedy to horror, feels true to me of how we live our lives,” the author Karen Russell, a fan, told me in an email. “A life story is multi-genre, and in the course of a day your love story might turn into a horror story, or vice versa.” Machado’s knack for capturing the mundane horrors of female existence has brought her attention — from the New York Times, which included her in a feature on literature’s “New Vanguard,” praising her depictions of “everyday” misogyny, and from dozens of Hollywood producers. This spring, Imagine Television optioned her work, with Gina Welch, a writer on Feud and The Terror, pitching it around as an anthology series, a sort of feminist Black Mirror. Samie Kim Falvey, the president of Imagine Television, told me in an email that Machado’s stories “capture the intense, unspoken psychology of inhabiting a woman’s body today.” The series, she predicted, will “undoubtedly be a force in the conversation about gender.”
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