Lez Liberty Lit Is in the Dream House

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Hi and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

In the Dream House is not only a memoir but a masterclass in what genre can do,” writes Alice Lesperance on Carmen Maria Machado’s latest at Electric Literature:

“Surely, no genre is more ripe for gothicizing than the memoir. To write about yourself is to double yourself, and looking back at your own life with present-you eyes is definitely uncanny. The point in a memoir at which we confront the worst parts of our memory is the ultimate descent: into trauma, into the bottom floors of our minds, into madness. These are all characteristics of gothic literature, the joys found in reading The Castle of Otranto, the fear waiting for us in Jane Eyre’s red room. And yet, for whatever reason, most memoirs not only ignore but resist the innate gothicness of memory; instead, they provide an artificially neat story, with no significant hauntings. Machado has the guts and the chops to embrace the fundamental eeriness of her project, and thus invent something new. It’s a retelling of an experience that feels at once uncanny and uncomfortably familiar to the reader. All of the ways in which memoir has the potential to be unsettling are heightened by the use of gothic standbys. And in memoir, the gothic can take new forms in ways that reinvent a centuries-old genre.”

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Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 965 articles for us.

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