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In the Dream House

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In the Dream House

A Memoir

Bookseller Recommendation

In the Dream House

“In the Dream House is the intersection of so many things. It's the story of a poisonous relationship between two women. It creates an archive of abusive queer relationships that has been absent in the culture's conscious for far too long. It's a study of style and form. It's tactile. It's phantasmagoria. It's a completely unique reading experience. It accesses a subterranean level of unease that it belongs on the shelf next to Poe or Lovecraft. Machado has accomplished something extraordinary here, something that should be studied meticulously and relished in as it horrifies you to your very core.”

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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.

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