Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

In the Dream House

A Memoir

Carmen Maria Machado

Graywolf Press

In the Dream House Download image

ISBN10: 1644450380
ISBN13: 9781644450383


272 Pages


Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction
Winner of the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.

And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope—the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman—through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.

Machado’s dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.


Praise for In the Dream House

“Breathtakingly inventive . . . Machado’s writing, with its heat and precise command of tone, has always had a sentient quality. But what makes In the Dream House a particularly self-aware structure—which is to say, a true haunted house—is the intimation that it is critiquing itself in real time . . . Here and in her short stories, Machado subjects the contemporary world to the logic of dreaming.”—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

“Merge the house and the woman—watch the woman experience her own body as a haunted house, a place of sudden, inexplicable terrors—and you are reading the blazingly talented Carmen Maria Machado.”—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

“Machado writes about enormity somatically: the gut, the rush of blood, the fluids and the feelings, the commotion in our chests—‘the simultaneous leap of excitement yanked back by a leash of panic.’ It’s easy for writers to prioritize the mind and forget about the body, with its cracks and chronic thrum; but Machado’s work is an aide-mémoire for corporeality.”The New York Times Book Review

“This review would be easier to write if Carmen Maria Machado weren't so good.”—Kristen Millares Young, The Washington Post

“A stunning book, both deeply felt and elegantly written.”—Julia M. Klein, The Boston Globe

“The Philly author of the much-awarded Her Body and Other Parties comes back strong with this memoir about adolescence, sexual identity, and damaging love.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[In the Dream House] is a genre-bending, formally inventive, generous memoir that adds both documentation to the archive as well as a work of art to be admired for its narrative achievements . . . Machado’s memoir adds something vital to the canon of queer history . . . Above everything else, this book is a gift to the reader, to anyone suffering in violence that is hard to prove or name, and people looking for ways to tell their stories that have few or no precedents.”San Francisco Chronicle

“It seems absurd that no one has written about abuse in queer relationships like this before. Mercifully, In the Dream House fills an aching void.”Women’s Review of Books

“Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House is the most innovative memoir I've ever read.”—Gabino Iglesias, NPR

“Two years after first commanding the world’s attention with her debut collection Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado is back with In The Dream House, an engrossing memoir that blurs the lines between personal narrative and literary criticism.”—Harper’s Bazaar

In the Dream House—a devastating chronicle, interrogation and historical contextualization of her experience in an abusive relationship—is no less than a brilliant revision of the form.”—Salon

“Machado is able to captivate the reader while telling a brutally honest narrative of abuse.”—Marie Claire

“Forget everything you think you know about memoir when reading Carmen Maria Machado's brilliant, twisting, provocative entry in the genre.”NYLON

“Machado’s telling of this particular story is anything but common: It’s compassionate and thoughtful and achingly honest. Most of all, In the Dream House is a generous book. It is generous to all the readers of the future who might find themselves in the Dream House as Machado did. And so that they don’t have to make up their own language to make sense of what is happening to them, it offers itself up, bare and vulnerable.”Vox

“[In the Dream House] is an impressive, finely calibrated work of literature, one that throws open the door to a subject that’s still rarely broached, and makes the reader’s stay equally illuminating and unsettling . . . In assuming the role of architect and archivist, Machado makes In the Dream House as much a memoir as a monument.”The A.V. Club

In the Dream House is proof, a nod towards justice, however nebulous or impossible that idea might be, as it sounds out against gatekeepers, archival erasures, and silence, articulating the possibility of queerness against the grain of singularity.”Frieze

“[In the Dream House] confronts the issues of credibility, self-doubt, and disbelief that all too frequently arise when survivors of domestic abuse speak out. But the work also stands as an intervention explicitly aimed at the silences, erasures, and lacunae of the culture at large . . . A human story, full of artistry, candor, and grace.”The Brooklyn Rail

“There are hundreds of ways to be haunted, In the Dream House shows, but not all of them have been written: Via a delicate polyphony of storytelling and criticism, Machado lays out how the literary tradition of domestic abuse has both expressed and muffled the experiences of women in danger in their own homes.”Bookforum

“Machado has pulled off an amazing feat: a book that comments on its own existence and the silences it endeavors to fill; a work deeply informed by a sense of identity and community; and page after page of flawless, flaying, addictive prose.”—Sam Worley, BookPage (starred review)

“If there are no new stories, only new ways to tell them, Carmen Maria Machado has found a way to do exactly that, ingeniously, In the Dream House—a book that manages to break open nearly everything we think we know about abuse memoirs . . . The result is a gorgeously kaleidoscopic feat—not just of literature but of pure, uncut humanity.”Entertainment Weekly

“Absolutely remarkable . . . What makes this book truly exceptional is how Machado creates an archive where, shamefully, there is none.”—Roxane Gay

“It’s a testament to Carmen Maria Machado’s abilities that a memoir as harrowing as In the Dream House can also be so energizing to read, so propulsive.”—Kevin Brockmeier

“Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir about being trapped in a love relationship that turns nasty and shameful is unflinchingly honest . . . In the Dream House affirms that Machado is one of the most talented young writers of our day.”—Lillian Faderman

“Wrought with alarming premonition, propulsive rhythm, and a trove of folkloric archetypes, Machado’s genre-crushing memoir is a meditation on the eclipse of knowledge and intuition by the narcotic light of a destructive bond that feels like love.”—Melissa Broder

“Carmen Maria Machado has re-imagined the memoir genre, creating a work of art both breathtakingly inventive and urgently true. In the Dream House is crucial queer testimony. I’ve never read a book like it.”—Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

“Daringly structured and ruthlessly inquisitive . . . The heart of this history is clear, deeply felt, and powerful. A fiercely honest, imaginatively written, and necessary memoir from one our great young writers.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[Machado’s] writing exhibits all of the formal precision of her fiction, and the book draws the reader deep into the varied rooms of the haunted house of the past. Highly recommended.”Booklist (starred review)

“In this open examination of abuse—how it starts, how it hides, how it tears at the victim’s sense of self—Machado reimagines and plays with the memoir form, bridging the gap between reader and author in a way that is original and haunting.”Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado is the author of Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. She lives in Philadelphia with her wife.