Here are some book club discussion prompts that you can use for Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. I hope you find them useful. Unlike the spoiler-free Reviews, these book club discussion questions assume that you have read the book.
MAJOR SPOILER WARNING.
This book is a collection of short stories. Do all of the stories tie together in some way? How so? Is there a story that you believe does not belong in the collection? Why?
The word “party” can be a noun that means (1) a person (2) a social gathering or (3) a political group or a verb that means to enjoy oneself at a social gathering. What does the word mean in the context of the title of this book? What does this collection have this title?
What story in the collection did you like the most? Why? What story in the collection did you like the least? Why?
The collection opens with two quoted poems by Jacqui Germain and Elizabeth Hewer. What do those poems mean to you? Do they set the tone for the book? What tone is that? Did your interpretation of those poems change after you read the book?
What did you think of each of the stories in the collection? Why? How did they make you feel? What do you think they are about? What is the author trying to say in each story, if anything?
“The Husband Stitch” relates to a children’s story called “The Green Ribbon.” What is that relationship? Does this story stand on its own if you haven’t read “The Green Ribbon?” Does the “Husband Stitch” make you re-think any earlier opinions you might have had about “The Green Ribbon?”
There are periodic instructions throughout “The Husband Stitch” for the reader to take certain actions while reading it out loud. Do those instructions enhance the story? How so?
What is the role of urban legends in “The Husband Stitch?” Why does the narrator refer to so many of them in the story?
“Especially Heinous” relates to the television show Law & Order: SVU. What is the author saying about that show with this story? Does this story stand on its own if you haven’t seen any episodes of that show? Does this story change your perception of that show?
“Especially Heinous” is written in the format of television episode descriptions. Why did the author write this story in that style? Was it effective? The episode titles in “Especially Heinous” are the same episode titles used for the real television show Law & Order: SVU. Why did the author use those titles?
In an interview, the author expressed her satisfaction that the book ends on a hopeful note with the story “Difficult at Parties.” Do you agree with the author that “Difficult at Parties” is hopeful? Would you have chosen a different order for the stories in the collection? What order would you have liked? Why?