“An explosive, shapeshifting piece of literary real estate, Amber Tamblyn’s arresting debut offers a scathing portrait of American celebrity culture and the way in which it transmutes human tragedy into a vicious circus; victims are forgotten as likes and shares swirl, and ‘news’ becomes a squalid orgy, a lurid feast. Tamblyn takes every risk in this astonishing and innovative work, and succeeds, gloriously.”
— Janet Fitch, bestselling author of The Revolution of Marina M. and Paint It Black
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In this electric and provocative debut novel, Tamblyn blends genres of poetry, prose, and elements of suspense to give shape to the shocking narratives of victims of sexual violence, mapping the destructive ways in which our society perpetuates rape culture.
A violent serial rapist is on the loose, who goes by the name Maude. She hunts for men at bars, online, at home— the place doesn’t matter, neither does the man. Her victims then must live the aftermath of their assault in the form of doubt from the police, feelings of shame alienation from their friends and family and the haunting of a horrible woman who becomes the phantom on which society projects its greatest fears, fascinations and even misogyny. All the while the police are without leads and the media hound the victims, publicly dissecting the details of their attack.
What is extraordinary is how as years pass these men learn to heal, by banding together and finding a space to raise their voices. Told in alternating viewpoints signature to each voice and experience of the victim, these pages crackle with emotion, ranging from horror to breathtaking empathy.
As bold as it is timely, Any Man paints a searing portrait of survival and is a tribute to those who have lived through the nightmare of sexual assault.
In her first novel, poet Tamblyn (Bang Ditto) nimbly flips the usual dynamic of sexual predation, writing about a female serial rapist who preys on men. The first victim of Maude (her adopted handle on an online dating forum) is Donald Ellis, a grade school teacher in Watertown, N.Y., whom she drugs and sexually mutilates. Donald's experience becomes the lens through which the assaults of at least three other victims are viewed, and though Maude's method of assault is very different for each, the fallout in every case is very much the same: shame and humiliation for the victim, feelings of helplessness among their family and friends, and exploitation by the media. Donald speaks for all of Maude's targets when, pondering how his assault has changed him, he thinks, "Every day I die again." Tamblyn constructs the story from a collage of diary entries, chat room exchanges, radio broadcast transcripts, and social media posts that show her canny awareness of how society shapes the narrative of assault, as in an entire chapter of fictional tweets responding to the survivors' ordeals. The suspense of whether Maude will be apprehended and her motives understood propels this powerful meditation on the horrors of rape culture. 25,000-copy announced first printing.