[Warning: This blog talks about the incidence and aftermath of sexual assault and rape.]
Like most readers, I have my habits. In the service of exposing my readers to a wider perspective, I have interviewed Christina Cox, fellow book lover, about a recent read she enjoyed: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn.
VL: How did you come to read Any Man?
CC: I’ve been a fan of Amber Tamblyn for a long time, but not for her writing — for her talents as an actor. When I found out this book was coming out, it piqued my interest immediately. Then I found out she was going to do a reading at Fountain Bookstore (down the road from me), and I knew I had to get it!
VL: Is it typical of the books you read?
CC: Not at all; it’s much more intense than the books I typically read. From its jacket description, you can see why:
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.
As you can see, it’s a dark premise. It’s shocking to read at some points, but Tamblyn does a really wonderful job of introducing lighter parts when you need them.
VL: What did you like best?
CC: Tamblyn began as a poet, so the book is written as a mix of poetry and prose. The writing is breathtaking, and she does a great job of conveying a lot of information and emotion in fewer words. So many pages gave me chills.
VL: What did you like least?
CC: It was hard to read such an intense book; at times I needed to put it down for something else. But at her Fountain reading, she talked about our society’s history of ignoring survivors of sexual assault/rape or sweeping their stories under the rug. I think this is an important story, and an interesting take considering a woman is the perpetrator.
VL: Would you recommend Any Man to family or friends?
CC: I would (and have), but I would do it with the caveat that it’s very difficult to read in parts. I’m careful with whom I recommend it, because you never know if this story will hit too close to home.
VL: Have you read other books by this author?
Tamblyn has several poetry books under her belt, but I haven’t read them yet. They’re definitely on my list!
Have you read Any Man? What did you think?