Machado rejects standard memoir conventions in favor of short discursive chapters. . . . The result is a thoroughly engrossing, sometimes enraging must-read.”BuzzFeed
“Celebrated for her inventive writing, Carmen Maria Machado will not disappoint her fans with this dazzling memoir that journeys through a maze of stories, each vignette (some only a sentence long) an individual room containing a moment of wonder, curiosity or sorrow.”NBC News Latino
“Machado is able to captivate the reader while telling a brutally honest narrative of abuse.”Marie Claire
“Forget everything you think you know about memoir when reading Carmen Maria Machado's brilliant, twisting, provocative entry in the genre.”NYLON
“A groundbreaking memoir in terms of both form and content. . . . Get ready for Machado to take you on several breakneck cross-country trips of the soul.”The Observer
“The Philly author of the much-awarded Her Body and Other Parties comes back strong with this memoir about adolescence, sexual identity, and damaging love.”The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[In the Dream House] confronts the issues of credibility, self-doubt, and disbelief that all too frequently arise when survivors of domestic abuse speak out. But the work also stands as an intervention explicitly aimed at the silences, erasures, and lacunae of the culture at large. . . . A human story, full of artistry, candor, and grace.”The Brooklyn Rail
“In the Dream House is both innovative in its approach and nerve-striking in its subject matter.”Pacific Standard
“Carmen Maria Machado's rise in the literary world has been nothing short of meteoric.”The Week
“Daringly structured and ruthlessly inquisitive. . . . The heart of this history is clear, deeply felt, and powerful. A fiercely honest, imaginatively written, and necessary memoir from one our great young writers.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Machado has written an affecting, chilling memoir about domestic abuse.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
“[Machado’s] writing exhibits all of the formal precision of her fiction, and the book draws the reader deep into the varied rooms of the haunted house of the past. Highly recommended.”Booklist, starred review
“Absolutely remarkable. . . . What makes this book truly exceptional is how Machado creates an archive where, shamefully, there is none.”Roxane Gay
“It’s a testament to Carmen Maria Machado’s abilities that a memoir as harrowing as In the Dream House can also be so energizing to read, so propulsive.”Kevin Brockmeier
“Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir about being trapped in a love relationship that turns nasty and shameful is unflinchingly honest. . . . In the Dream House affirms that Machado is one of the most talented young writers of our day.”Lillian Faderman
“Wrought with alarming premonition, propulsive rhythm, and a trove of folkloric archetypes, Machado’s genre-crushing memoir is a meditation on the eclipse of knowledge and intuition by the narcotic light of a destructive bond that feels like love.”Melissa Broder
“Carmen Maria Machado has re-imagined the memoir genre, creating a work of art both breathtakingly inventive and urgently true. In the Dream House is crucial queer testimony. I’ve never read a book like it.”Alex Marzano-Lesnevich
Experimenting with narrative form, Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) offers an emotional tour of the "Dream House," examining the history of an abusive queer relationship from multiple perspectives. In fragmented vignettes and short essays, Machado considers the "Dream House" as romance novel, noir, déjà vu, cautionary tale, and more (even delving into "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories) to engage with the literature on queer domestic abuse, positioning her account within the framework of lesbian experience. Machado's frequent use of second-person narration is especially harrowing, placing readers inside the Dream House as she recounts the events surrounding her relationship. In this open examination of abuse—how it starts, how it hides, how it tears at the victim's sense of self—Machado reimagines and plays with the memoir form, bridging the gap between reader and author in a way that is original and haunting. VERDICT A thought-provoking account for anyone interested in the experience of abuse survivors and lesbian narratives; trigger warning for descriptions of physical and emotional abuse. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/19.]—Gricel Dominguez, Florida International Univ. Lib., Miami
In this daringly structured and ruthlessly inquisitive memoir, Machado (Her Body and Other Parties, 2017) examines an abusive relationship with an eye to both personal truth and cultural assumption.
The author begins with a declaration. "I speak into the silence," she says. "I toss the stone of my story into a vast crevice; measure the emptiness by its small sound." She is writing to record her experience of queer sexuality and intimate psychological violence; by telling her story, she's committing its existence to history. History has largely ignored the queer experience, particularly the existence of domestic abuse between queer women. As Machado points out, when you are invisible from the collective narrative, it is harder to imagine what your own feelings mean. The relationship at the heart of this memoir is resurrected with visceral potency. Instead of tracing her past with linear continuity, the author fractures it, diving into beautifully or painfully remembered moments with a harrowing emotional logic. As Machado recounts, she fell in love with a woman who seemed wonderful—they had sex, went on road trips, met parents—but who eventually became oppressively terrifying. In other sections, the author recounts an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and illuminates the imagery of abuse in two films by George Cukor. Machado uses slippery changes in point of view and a knack for translating emotion into concrete sensation to slide readers into her space, where they experience the fear and confusion of abuse from the inside. She applies the astonishing force of her imagination and narrative skill to her own life, framing chapters with storytelling motifs (unreliable narrator, star-crossed lovers, choose-your-own-adventure) and playful footnotes. Occasionally, the various parts muddle each other's trajectories, but the heart of this history is clear, deeply felt, and powerful.
A fiercely honest, imaginatively written, and necessary memoir from one of our great young writers.