Carmen Maria Machado: The Language of Violence
'The word ‘archive’', Carmen Maria Machado tells us (by way of Derrida), 'comes from the ancient Greek ‘arkheion’: the house of the ruler.' This note is important because Machado’s In the Dreamhouse is a book about memory, about power and about the building of 'impossible stories' – the ones that we are still finding the language to tell, and have to piece together. 'The abused woman has certainly been around as long as human beings have been capable of psychological manipulation and interpersonal violence,' she writes, but the conversation about abuse in the queer community 'is even newer, and even more shadowed,' so she must find a way to tell it.
In the Dreamhouse, the winner of the 2021 Folio Prize builds on her reputation as a writer of ambition and inventiveness who can simultaneously pay homage to a genre, while subverting it. Machado joins us to talk to about her work, and being the architect of her own resurrection.
My friend gave me this for Christmas and I loved it! Machado’s writing style is ethereal and haunting.
‘The Husband Stitch’ (named for the medical procedure sometimes taken to preserve marital satisfaction) begins the collection of stories which trace boundaries of queerness, horror, imagination and reality. I particularly liked ‘Especially Heinous’ which dissects a series of Law and Order SVU.
Machado flirts with reality, painting a picture of multigenerational and multicultural trauma across the city of New York. It’s beautiful and evocative from start to finish and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and compelling read!