[REVIEW] In The Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado

(Buy it HERE.)

The memoir is, at its core, an act of resurrection. Memoirists re-create the past, reconstruct dialogue. They summon meaning from events that have long been dormant.”

A long time ago, for what seems like a very long time, Carmen Maria Machado was abused by her girlfriend. While the abuse was emotional rather than physical, it still left indelible marks and tracks on Machado. These have been shaped into motifs, stacked up and mortared together with introspection, literary quotes and bits of queer women’s history to create the experience that is In The Dream House.

It’s strange to say this about a memoir of abuse, but this is my most enjoyable read of 2021 so far. It’s so fluid and beautifully constructed, with artful flowing prose that is deceptively easy to read. (I lost count of the number of times I read something, then 3 pages later said WHAT? and went back and re-read just to bask in the brilliance.)

This is such an incredible experience of a book. It rewards readers for being sensitive, well-read and open-minded but never makes us feel foolish about the parts that aren’t immediately parseable, that need thinking about and looking up and discussion. It invites you into the author’s life, giving and expecting no judgment, just appreciation and understanding.

In short, this book gives out a literary measure of the grace and care that Machado never received in the nightmare relationship in the Dream House, but has now found in abundance. It holds promise for understanding and healing for those in similar circumstances, who find their struggles rendered invisible by the way society may perceive them. It holds up a light to a blind spot that many people may have (that of domestic abuse in queer relationships). Most importantly, it is an intelligent, witty, honest masterpiece, and in time, will be considered essential for students of literature. (Seriously, it’s just a matter of time before this is on syllabi worldwide).

…just because the sharpness of the sadness has faded does not mean that it was not, once, terrible.

5 stars and the highest of accolades to In The Dream House.

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