5 Books That Will Surprise You
Prepare to be blown away by some of the best new short fiction on the bookstore shelf.
4 of 5
Her Body and Other Parties
248 pages; Graywolf Press
Available at:Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Once in a while, you read a debut that rattles your psyche in ways you can't fully explain, and this is one such book. Machado's fiercely original short stories are part fairy tale, part dark exploration of the lives of modern women. What starts as a simple premise of, say, a young girl seducing a boy she finds attractive, or of a woman selling prom dresses at the mall, turns darkly fantastical as we discover that the girl wears a ribbon around her neck that must never be removed, and that the gauzy dresses have a hideous secret woven into their fabric. From the very first page, Machado plays with the reader, offering parenthetical instructions: "(If you read this story aloud, please use the following voices: ME: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.)" In a harrowing story called "Eight Bites," a woman who's been cajoled into bariatric surgery is made to confront the ghost of her former (socially unacceptable) self. In another, a woman lists her sexual liaisons in what seems a familiar arc...until a contagion annihilates most of the population, illuminating the rarity of human connection. A must-read.
— Dawn Raffel