Book Cover
Title The Husband Stitch
Series ---
Author Carmen Maria Machado
Cover Art ---
Publisher - 2014
First Printing - 2014
Category Science Fiction
Warnings Explicit Sex

Main Characters

A woman, a man, their son

Main Elements Fairy Tales

Nominated for the Nebula Award & the Shirley Jackson Award. Originally published in Granta.

(If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices:
Me: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.
The boy who will grow into a man, and be my spouse: robust with his own good fortune.
My father: Like your father, or the man you wish was your father.
My son: as a small child, gentle, rounded with the faintest of lisps; as a man, like my husband. All other women: interchangeable with my own.)

This story is free to read at the link provided.

Ok, before you start, make sure you know the fairy tale about the girl with a ribbon around her neck, used to hide the fact that she had been beheaded. I couldn't find it on Google, and not knowing that there was such a tale, made the story even more meaningless and confusing to read since it was impossible to even grasp the metaphor which I knew had to be there but couldn't figure out.

I read this because it was nominated for the 2014 Nebular Awards and I had to wonder why. Maybe I just didn't get it, unlike the nominee “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family" by Usman T. Malik which I mostly got. But the fantasy/science fictin factor is very minor, as opposed to the explicit and constant sex.

From what I read online it is about a woman being gently oppressed by her husband (at least it explained the other be-ribboned women...I thought they would all turn out to be aliens or clones or something cool), she has a secret and he keeps asking her about it (like three times 18 years...yeah, that's emotional torture) and therefore is emotionally abusive and mistreating her. I really, really didn't get that. In fact I sort of sympathized with him, if someone wore a green ribbon around their neck every single day, never took it off, never let anyone touch it, I would probably wonder about it too. In fact I respected him for not simply yanking it off while she was sleeping. I mean I get it, it isn't a literal ribbon, it's a secret part of her she doesn't want to share, but she loves this man, he loves her, he's a good guy, and sharing this one thing...what, makes her head fall off? Maybe I've just never been in a situation like that, I can't sympathize, I don't think I have that kind of secret from anyone.

And again, while in “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family" I could clearly see how the states of physical matter represented the states of a human society, I have no idea how the fairy tales and the urban legends apply to the story here.

And what was with the "if you read it out loud..." bits. And I'm pretty sure if I shook a can full of pennies in someone's face "betrayal" is not the expression I would see...more like concern that I had gone insane.

Nope, this one I totally didn't get.

Posted: September 2016


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