Book of the Week: Experimental form explores violence

In the Dream House

Carmen Maria Machado

2019/272 pages / memoir

In The Dream House is a haunting look at psychological abuse and the ways in which it often goes unrecognized, particularly in queer communities. The book focuses on Machado’s own harrowing experience with intimate partner violence and points out how rarely abuse in same-sex relationships is acknowledged and discussed. In The Dream House represents Machado’s effort to alter this “archival silence.”

The book’s experimentation with form allows each chapter to function as its own revelation including Dream House as lipogram; as Déjà Vu; as Schrödinger’s Cat; as “Choose Your Own Adventure”; as comedy of errors. Machado also employs the tropes of folk tales (read Brother’s Grimm) to examine domestic violence and brilliantly footnotes multiple chapters with Stith Thompson’s Motif-Index of Folk-Literature. These metaphorical explorations expressly point out the multifaceted ways in which abusive power and its related trauma manifest.

In The Dream House blends literary criticism, media analysis, short-form fiction, pop culture reference, and memoir into a crucial and disturbing account of same-sex intimate partner violence.

Laura Judge,  Concord Public Library

Visit CPL at concordpubliclibrary.net

Author: Insider Staff

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