I’ve mentioned before that certain books sweep through the staff like wildfire and it seems like they become beloved by over half of us in less than a week and it’s all we talk about for months. The most recent book subject to this phenomenon is Carmen Maria Machado’s intense and lyrical memoir, In the Dream House. We can’t get enough of it, and we’re so pleased it made the top of the November Indie Next List! Here’s why we love it:
“I daresay you have heard of the Dream House?” One of Machado’s first lines grabbed me viscerally by the throat and if I am being honest it still has a hold of me. This memoir focuses on domestic abuse, an uncomfortable topic for sure, but Machado’s writing made it much more than uncomfortable. I cried, I raged and in parts I had to put the book down because I felt so weighted down I couldn’t bear to read it….but every time that happened I still was drawn to the book. I picked it up and read it because I couldn’t bear to have it lay unfinished. Read this book; several times or once and it will stay with you. Machado is a force to be reckoned with.
Easily my top non-fiction read of the last five years. A unique blend of cathartic memoir and deep-dive essay on little-known areas of queer history and culture. Absolutely chilling and mesmerizing.
Machado has written something so astonishingly brilliant, so unique, so gorgeous, so visceral, so undeniably raw, it broke my heart and mended it in equal measure. This book absolutely blew me away. This is, primarily, a book chronicling an abusive relationship, but it is also so much more. It is queer history and essays. It uses movies, books, pop culture, and various other forms of media as reflection and allegory. It is a haunted house story, because domestic abuse is the ultimate Gothic haunting. It is personal. It is analytical. It is an examination and an excavation. It is a little bit of everything, and yet it is so very much a unified whole. This book is a masterpiece, and I owe a piece of my heart to Machado for writing it. If you are even remotely curious about this book, pick it up. Read it. Experience it. It is worth your time and attention, and you will be changed, even if only for an afternoon, by doing so.
Mixing absolutely stunning prose with queer history and a visceral, personal narrative, Machado has accomplished a book so intimate and yet so open that I often felt like an intruder on the story. I was watching the book happen through the windows of the titular house, and it was uncomfortable and heartwrenching, beautiful and tender, painful and cathartic all at the same time.
You can order In the Dream House online or call the store to reserve a copy!
The ABA did an interview with Carmen recently that gives a little more insight into the writing process behind In the Dream House, and you can read it here!