“In the Dream House” is a memoir by Carmen Maria Machado, author of “Her Body and Other Parties.” In her newest, Machado recounts her relationship with someone she only refers to as “the woman.”
In retrospect, the fragments of their life as a couple come together to form a complex picture that fades from blissful to abusive. Each chapter is a sliver of memory, written in the style of a unique literary trope.
In the High Fantasy chapter: “You are a piece of someone’s destiny. You are critical to a larger plan that will span many years, many kingdoms, many volumes;” as Dé·jà vu, “Sometimes when you catch her looking at you, you feel like she’s determining the best way to take you apart”; as Epiphany, “Most types of domestic abuse are completely legal.”
Machado’s writing is artful and painfully reflective. While at times darkly humorous, Machado seems quite aware that while she is telling her own story she knows she is providing context in a way in which she never has to access herself.
As Machado says in the chapter as Self-Help Best Seller, “The first book about lesbian abuse was published the year I was born…Why did no one tell me?”
Abuse between women is rarely identified in the examples offered of intimate partner violence and though this is hardly a manual for defining such, giving voice to the underrepresented is urgently important for building empathy and creating dialogue.
We live in a time where LGBTQ relationships are only just being accepted in the mainstream. As a society we are behind in accepting the “love is love” of a joyful same sex wedding, moreover we are light-years behind in defining healthy relationships and providing resources for understanding what is not.
As Machado has already proven with her previous works of fiction, she is a powerful voice and a talented, brave woman for sharing her story.