This Is My Body, Given For You by Heather Parry

This Is My Body, Given For You is a collection of short stories that explore body horror and ways in which the body can be changed. The stories combine gothic and gruesome elements, exploring various depths of humanity and finding sources of power from within, sometimes in a monstrous way. The collection opens with a tale about a girl whose menstruation goes awry and ends with a choose your own adventure story about a man and his wife’s choices, and in between that, there’s a real range of topics, but a focus on outsiders, bodies that won’t behave, and bodies that change when people need them to.

I really liked the way this collection is structured, with sections containing one or more stories that have wry summaries of the themes of that section in a way that feels like you are being guided through the book. It also gives a sense of being offered something by the writer, which unnervingly echoes the title. The stories themselves explore a range of bodily transformation and alteration, some of which will make people wince, and a lot of them are very playful, even when they are dark. I particularly enjoyed ‘Husband into Hen’, about a wife’s reaction to her husband waking up as a hen, which tells a great story in a small space and has the kind of surprise final moments that can really make a short story memorable.

This is a great collection for people who enjoy weird stories that play with body horror. I like how it purposefully shifts tone and style, as signalled by the different sections, and sets up reader expectations as you move through the stories, and the final interactive story really embeds the reader as complicit in the spectacle that is the characters’ bodies and selves.