The first, and clear standout, story in Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection Her Body and Other Parties is a marvel, uncomfortably confrontational in its sexual politics and frank sexuality. Machado’s narrator tells a story of meeting the young man she knew she would marry, their marriage, the birth and raising of their son, and an inevitable betrayal by her husband whom she loves. She offers all herself to him all except the mystery of what lies beneath the green ribbon tied in a bow around her throat. Inevitably, the ribbon must be pulled.
It is a story in the strong tradition of Angela Carter, of believing, of storytelling, and who is believed and who is not – specifically, why the stories of women are not believed.
The title refers to the extra stitch – never officially documented – sometimes given to a woman after the area between her vagina and anus is either torn or cut during childbirth; the aim to make the vagina tighter than it was, to increase the husband’s pleasure during sex.
First published in Granta 129: Fate, 2014 and available there online, collected in Her Body and Other Parties, Graywolf Press/Serpent’s Tail, 2017