In The Dream House, a memoir by a Carmen Maria Machado, tells a heart-wrenching story of pain, memory, and healing. The memoir chronicles her experiences as a woman, as a queer person, and as a survivor of an abusive relationship.
In The Dream House
She crafts a series of interwoven stories and draws them into a larger critique of the insidious nature of abuse in queer communities. She argues that this violence too often goes unnoticed within the queer community — whether it be due to collective trust, rhetoric surrounding femme abusers, or social perceptions of women. Machado shines a light on this issue and, through lived experience and historical context, pleads us to recognize its importance.
The memoir is, at its core, a brutally honest dive into the tangled nature of an abusive relationship. By using her own story as a lens, Machado presents a deeply moving testament to the altered realities fabricated by manipulation and gaslighting.
Rather than long form chapters, the memoir is told in a series of brief vignettes, which Machado attributes to the fragmented and clouded nature of memory in an abusive relationship. She also relies heavily on second person narrative, a uniquely intimate type of memoir writing that invites the audience directly into her shoes. In doing this, Machado says to to the reader — “Here. This is what I remember. Piece it together with me.”
Overall, the memoir offers a candid and intimate look at abusive relationships, with a specific focus the queer community that has been previously overlooked in literature about abuse. Machado’s memoir can be considered one of the first and most notable works that centers specifically on queer abuse, and it has started an urgent and long-overdue conversation about abusive relationships in the queer community.