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10 thoughts on “In the Dream House

  1. Roxane Roxane says:

    With exacting exuisite prose Carmen Maria Machado writes about the complexities of abuse in ueer relationships in her absolutely remarkable memoir In The Dream House She deftly chronicles the wildness of succumbing to desire the entrancing tenderness of loving and being loved the fragility of hope and the unspeakable horror when the woman you love is a monster beneath and on the surface of her skin What makes this book truly exceptional is how Machado creates an archive where shamefully there is none She demands that we face the truths we are all too often reluctant to confront about the kinds of suffering we are willing to tolerate and the suffering we willfully ignore Machado has already dazzled us with her brilliant fiction writing and she exceeds all expectations as she breaks new ground in what memoir can do Also fuck that trash ass bitch She ain't shit At all


  2. Kat Kat says:

    exuisite cannot recommend highly enough


  3. chai ♡ chai ♡ says:

    “If you need this book it is for you” so opens Machado’s star bright and exuisitely crafted memoir “In the Dream House” the words like a hand on the reader’s backVery few works of writing are fraught tremulous and dauntless than a memoir It’s mental self flagellation the prying open of one’s life the splitting of the past like a cracked egg To trap yourself in the mirrored halls of your own memory The euivalent of digging a nail into an open soreWriters like Machado offer up their ability to communicate the inexpressible through language But it isn’t an easy feat—“putting language to something for which you have no language” Machado couldn’t find a language for her wordless agony and like many other ueer people in abusive same sex relationships she’s had to gather up the silence like a mantle and carry it along with her step by step Hers like many others was a story like a cry into empty space no walls to throw an echo back That is “the violence of the archive” Machado says how it wells up and pulls those stories under in ways foreseen and unforeseen as often denied as acknowledged How its trumpets of silence—when blown—can blast a blanket of uiet loud enough to smother ueer relationship traumaIn her memoir Machado joins her account to the ones before her long kept under a pall of silence Into this “archival silence” Machado screams and the sound crashes breaks like a wave and floods the pages with all the force of the oceanIn every sense this is uite a piece of work Machado audaciously pushes the boundaries of the memoir form reshaping the very definition of it to suit the thrumming drum of her remembrance And once unearthed there is no containing the memories The words whip out of Machado like a spirit breaking free of the skin that restrains it and that restlessness is echoed in the way the chapters are broken apart and re formed and siphoned into a series of vignettes translated into narrative traditions romance novel stoner comedy road trip self help bestseller and literary tropes Unreliable Narrator Pathetic Fallacy Choose Your Own Adventure “I broke the stories down” Machado writes “because I was breaking down and didn’t know what else to do”“In the Dream House” is freuently footnoted too with Machado accounting fairy tale motifs as they occur as flawlessly as Homer accounted his dactyls jabbing a dose of eerie fantasy into the memoir—reflecting perhaps the war that stirred in Machado between belief and disbelief as her relationship with her abusive ex girlfriend turned from rocky to surreal to dysfunctional It’s an unusual structure but Machado carries off with dazzling aplomb She also occasionally breaks from first person narration to address a “you” a younger Machado from the past This has the potential to be gimmicky but the author does it to genuinely good effect the “I” is grounded in the present while the “you” gives the sense of being past everything of looking back at land from an ice floe drifted out to seaAbove all “In the Dream House” is a powerful illustration of the ways that abusers know how to show themselves to best advantage how to cast their victims into shadow and doubt their tactics seemingly so simple with no art to them which of course is artMachado understood very keenly how it is to receive a love you could not understand why you were worthy of it Sorrow for her dragged at me bearing me down as her ex girlfriend—the woman from the Dream House—picked up with uick and unflagging instinct the traces of everything in the world Machado was most insecure about how she liked to raise her hopes with a look and break them with another The manipulation the gaslighting and here a chapter called Choose Your Own Adventure an exercise in futility as Machado struggles to follow the complex footwork that led them to that dysfunctional conversational pivot The carefully curated insults falling like granite against which soft things might smash and be broken and the following kindnesses that stung worse than cruelty would have done That impulse too to keep it inside to hide it—in the raw hope that burying it all away will diminish its power and give it a less vital and terrible form How easy it could all be forgotten distilled into habit and convenience “Sit with this” Machado urges herself “don’t forget it’s happening” Later an understanding like a thumb pressed to her throat “This is not normal This is not normal This is not normal” There are no bounds to how many emotional octaves the author can reach and my heart felt as raw as a burn by the endAs we plow ahead barreling toward the closing pages Machado writes—paraphrasing the final lines of a Panamanian folktale—“my tale goes only to here; it ends and the wind carries it off to you” The story might be over but for many readers—who could say none of their own but saved it in their chests where it did not need to be spoken—it will echo on and on☆ ko fi ★ blog ☆ twitter ★ tumblr ☆


  4. Justin Tate Justin Tate says:

    YES YES YES A 1000x better than expected and I expected nothing short of holy scriptureMonths earlier I stumbled upon the description and knew this book would be monumental As early reviews crept in my anticipation grew I had my Kindle fully charged and stayed up until midnight so I could start reading the second it released By 2am I was 30% done A few marathon readings later I reached the last page with breathless finality The result? Monumental doesn't even begin to cover itThe funny thing it's not monumental because of what happens Bad relationships happen all the time Abusive relationships mental andor physical happen all the time It's talked about less in ueer relationships that's true and Machado does a great job pointing that out but I doubt anybody will be dumbfounded by what they read They will be surprised however that there's someone brave enough to talk about it and by how personal she's willing to get They will be surprised by how she structures itThe structure really is what makes this a masterpiece It's not just the experience it's the delivery The darkest memories are brilliantly conveyed in second person and through varying lens Most of them literary devices Machado recounts her life through the eyes of Chekhov's Gun Choose Your Own Adventure Haunted House Erotica Plot Twist and dozens Each section is short and precise Never a wasted word For those uncomfortable reading about abuse she doesn't take it too far either This isn't battered woman porn She doesn't go on and on We get snippets glimpses of a life that we can easily piece together and importantly relate toWhat she accomplishes for the ueer community specifically I think is breaking the ice After hard fought battles for marriage euality there's this unspoken rule that gay relationships must work If they don't people will point and say I told you so By extension rights may be taken away Obviously that's not the only factor that kept Machado in her relationship It may not even be in the Top 10 but it is a shadow that hovers over the scene She points to lesbian stereotypes as well Society expects men to be abusive but two women? Their relationship should be a utopia right? These stereotypes this ice is something she clearly wants to break apart And she succeeds tremendouslyOf course you don't have to be ueer to recognize this is a master work of memoir and creative non fiction It is a testament that all experiences however ordinary or uniue should be shared Perhaps the most powerful aspect of the book is the relentless honesty She veils it slightly by the structure and 2nd person but in a way this makes the experience real More true And the accomplishment I think is for any one person to read this and be able to know that for sure they are not alone


  5. Michael Michael says:

    Contemplative and inventive In the Dream House dispels the silence surrounding abusive ueer relationships In her debut memoir Machado recounts the violence she endured for years at the hands of her first girlfriend a rail thin androgynous unnamed white woman who routinely invalidated and gaslighted her Written in arresting prose the work unfolds in a series of terse terrifying sections each of which centers on a single trope from the conceptual ‘Epiphany’ ‘Memory’ ‘Void’ to the generic ‘Murder Mystery’ ‘Noir’ ‘Bildungsroman’ As she moves back and forth in time viewing the bond from several angles Machado embeds cultural criticism and theory into her story considering the ways in which abuse toward and among women specifically lesbians is and is not represented With great subtlety the writer captures the power dynamics at the heart of her relationship and her commentary on American culture is sharp


  6. Jenna Jenna says:

    You enjoy reading memoirs because you like to get a better understanding of people how they think and feel to learn different perspectives You are lesbian and particularly enjoy memoirs by people in the LGBT community You see this memoir come out ha ha about a lesbian relationship and you notice a lot of people really love it You assume you will too You read and read and you don't ever get inside the author's head or have any idea of what she thinks and feels You don't because she rarely describes her feelings and she writes in the freaking second person present tense and you're like What the hell is this? Who writes a memoir in the second person??However since the author writes very well you continue reading hoping she'll eventually open up and really let you into her life You'll eventually get a sense of who she is You're hoping she'll stop writing as though you the reader are the one going through all this instead of the author You wonder what so many people love about this book that maybe would work for you as a novel you doubt it because you'd still not get to know the characters but as a memoir? Nope just not doing it for youOK that's enough writing in the second person; I'll stop trying to make the review about you the reader and let you know that this review is what I think about the book Better?Again what the hell???  Perhaps Ms Machado thought that by writing in the second person the reader would feel like they were in her shoes and maybe wonder how they would feel if they were And maybe that's what it did for some people but for me? I kept reading the book wondering if I would ever learn anything about what she was feeling Perhaps it was too painful for her to write in the first person but in that case it wasn't time for her to write a memoir about painful experiences and she should have waited until she'd had therapy and worked through her feelingsMaybe Ms Machado simply wanted to bring awareness to the fact that same sex relationships can be unhealthy and abusive just as straight ones sometimes are If that was all she wanted to do then she did that very well Maybe a lot of people were unaware of this fact but being lesbian I've known of three abusive relationships between women over the years Therefore I didn't need to read the book but I am glad the book sheds light on this topic which is rarely ever talked aboutAs a memoir however the book just didn't work for me There were entire chapters describing movies and tv episodes Who does that? It's a memoir not TV Guide  I know almost as little about Carmen Machado as I did prior to reading this book I don't even know how she and her ex girlfriend supported themselves There was talk of various places they lived but not about what they did to pay the rent and buy groceries did they even buy groceries and pay the rent or did they suat illegally? And feelings? I don't think I've ever read a memoir where the author talked so little about how they felt Or even what they were thinking She merely relates a few emotionally abusive episodes and some of the manipulation tactics her ex used on her and then goes on with the movie references and a lot of discussion repetitive about how there can be abuse in same sex relationships It's elegantly written butYou probably won't read any of her books especially not a memoir if she happens to write another in the future You are glad this book is finished though it wasn't a terrible read Still you are ready to move on to better books Yay for you I mean  me4 stars for the uality of the writing 1 star for content  


  7. Marchpane Marchpane says:

    In the Dream House is a most unmemoir like memoir This account of Carmen Maria Machado’s years in an abusive same sex relationship plays with form blending elements of literary criticism pop culture essays folk tales and the shadowy worlds of her short fiction To tell this real life story Machado cleaves herself in two the first person present day “I” — settled successful safe — addresses the second person past “you” This textual interplay between two Carmens affords closeness than addressing an imagined reader would “You cried in front of many people You missed readings parties the supermoon You tried to tell your story to people who didn’t know how to listen You made a fool of yourself in ways than oneI thought you died but writing this I’m not sure you did”Machado has then further cut and polished her pain into dozens of tiny gleaming facets variations in style that are employed as lenses each one offering a new revelation Among these for example are Dream House as lipogram; as prisoner’s dilemma; as Schrödinger’s Cat; as Choose Your Own Adventure®; as comedy of errors This all could have fallen into a gimmicky heap but the blend of formal inventiveness and raw vulnerability is executed beautifully In the Dream House is a memoir from someone who not only has a painful experience to relate and work through but who can also REALLY write AND think AND synthesise who in her own words can braid the clays of memory and essay and fact and perception together smash them into a ball roll them flat Overall it is unconventional and as such won’t be to everyone’s taste but not in a way that’s distancing or abstract A genuinely memorable and highly impressive work 5 stars


  8. Gabby Gabby says:

    Wow this is a very powerful memoir about an abusive same sex relationship I listened to the audiobook for this and this story was honestly felt like reading her diary it was so raw and honest and devastating plus the writing is absolutely gorgeous I haven't read about abuse in a same sex relationship before so this book definitely shines a light on something very importantBut with uotes like this one I was blown away by the writing “A reminder to remember just because the sharpness of the sadness has faded does not mean that it was not once terrible It means only that time and space creatures of infinite girth and tenderness have stepped between the two of you and they are keeping you safe as they were once unable to”


  9. Chelsea (chelseadolling reads) Chelsea (chelseadolling reads) says:

    This was absolutely incredible Just wow


  10. Meike Meike says:

    Winner of the Lambda Award for LGBT Nonfiction 2020In this intimate formally experimental memoir Machado recalls how she survived an abusive relationship but gives her own experiences a wider context As she illustrates by giving examples from real life art and scientific texts violence in lesbian relationships has rarely been acknowledged and discussed thus rendering the victims almost invisible and making them even vulnerable With In the Dream House Machado wants to add to the archive of stories about the human experience turning the phenomenon of abuse between ueer women into a topic to be considered to be pondered To talk about ueer people as abusers is in fact Machado states an act of liberation We deserve to have our wrongdoing represented as much as our heroism because when we refuse wrongdoing as a possibility for a group of people we refuse their humanity Machado met her unnamed ex girlfriend when she was studying for an MFA in Iowa and with time the woman in the dream house became and controlling passive aggressive and also physically violent gaslighting Machado insulting and diminishing her and playing with her insecurities until Machado finally found the strength to exit the relationship that had become a prison The mechanisms Machado depicts will probably be recognizable for many people but I have to admit that before the author pointed it out to me I hadn't actively thought about the fact that there are hardly any texts that talk about abuse in a ueer context which means that ueer people in these situations do not find themselves represented in real and fictional stories and are thus deprived of a language to express what they are experiencing And although Machado explicitly states that it is her goal to change that the situations and effects she depicts are in many respects universal Machado is just a fantastic psychological writer with keen sensibilities and she finds highly evocative words and images to convey her own past This main narrative thread is not only split in multiple short chapters it is also interspersed with flashbacks scientific research on the topic as well as examples from literature music films and real life that support Machado's argument that violence in lesbian relationship has long been a taboo These paragraphs also paint a wider picture of American society as a whole about dynamics that aim to other minorities and to control female sexuality This multi layered approach is also mirrored in the metaphor of the dream house which not only refers to the actual house in Bloomington the ex girlfriend used to live in but also to a house that was not a house and a dream that was no dream at all a self deception with multiple different rooms and scary surroundings think Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher where the house is also much than an actual building To convey her alienation Machado refers to her abused self of the past as you which is a particularly tricky narrative choice and I've rarely seen an author pull this perspective off so effortlessly and effectfully All in all I liked this much better than Her Body and Other Parties which I already found rather impressive and once I started reading I couldn't put it down Some parts were slightly too fragmented for my taste but this memoir is a real achievement and deserves all the praise it currently gets


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In the Dream House For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same sex relationship In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit inventiveness and an inuiring spirit as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely uniue piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic