A revolutionary memoir about domestic abuse by the award-winning author of Her Body and Other Parties.
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
And it's that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope--the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman--through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.
Machado's dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.
"Merge the house and the woman--watch the woman experience her own body as a haunted house, a place of sudden, inexplicable terrors--and you are reading the blazingly talented Carmen Maria Machado."--Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
"Breathtakingly inventive... Machado's writing, with its heat and precise command of tone, has always had a sentient quality. But what makes In the Dream House a particularly self-aware structure -- which is to say, a true haunted house -- is the intimation that it is critiquing itself in real time... Here and in her short stories, Machado subjects the contemporary world to the logic of dreaming." -- Katy Waldman, The New Yorker
"Machado's wit and compulsive post-mortem approach configure her story into a wildly propulsive memoir, an ambulatory survey of the genre." -- The New York Times Book Review
"The way [In the Dream House] seamlessly weaves the facts of [Machado's] life with fictions -- the ghosts that still haunt her, the fact that even time travel could not undo what's been done -- is a masterstroke. Machado's that writer who can convincingly code-switch between sci-fi nerdery and lyrical realism. She's equally at home in both worlds." -- Angela Watercutter, Wired
"What might feel gimmicky in another writer's hands is revelatory in Machado's: In the Dream House becomes a complexly layered exploration of the personal and the political, and the literary, both a brave baring of a painful experience and a reckoning with our collective failure to truly deal with queer intimate partner abuse." -- Lambda Literary