This week I have been forced to up my game.
Our guest is Carmen Maria Machado, and her works is not for the lazy or faint-hearted. From her dizzying collection of short fiction, Her Body and Other Parties, to her one-of-a-kind memoir, In the Dream House, Carmen’s writing forces a humble interviewer such as me, to question how we talk about books, author, character, truth, fiction and all the messy space in between.
In the Dream House deconstructs what a memoir is and can do, and I had to really think about the questions I wanted to ask, and how to ask them. It is, nominally, a narrative of domestic abuse in a same-sex relationship, but Carmen chooses to tell that story using every literary tool in her (and everyone else’s) toolbox. The result is electrifying.
We talk about privacy versus public, what it’s like to write about sex you’ve actually had, hypochondria, double-standards and the lure of horror and gothic as a way to tell a real-life story of violence and trauma.
It’s not all dark though. We laugh a lot. Mostly at my awkwardness.
Her Body and Other Parties and In the Dream House are both published by Greywolf Press in North America and Serpent’s Tail in the UK.
Other books discussed in this episode include:
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Thanks to Adrian Flounders for graphic design.