Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Rating: 5 Stars
I recently had the opportunity to see Amber Tamblyn read from her debut novel Any Man. While this was an incredible experience, even more amazing was the dialogue and questions it sparked amongst those in attendance. The topic covered by this book, male sexual assault victims, is rarely discussed. In Tamblyn’s recent interview with NPR she quotes “[This book] aims to degender the conversation around sexual assault and sexual violence. While also, I think, re-sensitizing us as a culture to what…rape culture actually is and what is means and how it manifests.” Although, beyond this, the light this novel shines on the media is raw, real and necessary. Tweets like “Katy Perry debuts new colorful haircut at concert benefiting trans victims of sexual assault” portrayed in the book, may not have occurred in real life but are certainly not unbelievable.
To back up a bit, author Amber Tamblyn may not be an unfamiliar name. Famous for her acting career in both television and film, in roles such as Martha M. Masters in House and Tibby in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Tamblyn has also written works of poetry, Dark Sparkler and Bang Ditto. Recently, she co-wrote and directed Paint It Black now on Netflix and is even credited as one of the founders of the Time’s Up movement.
Any Man is not a long book by any means, at less than 275 pages it is frankly one of the shorter books I’ve read in quite some time, in fact it took me mere hours to read. I mention this because while it may be short in length, it packs a heavy subject, one that sparks an important conversation and forces us to take a hard look at the media, bullying and how numb we’ve become as Americans. Maude is a female. Maude is a serial rapist. Maude targets men. And, as unfortunate as it may seem, the experiences the men in this book face are common place for many women. That is what is so powerful and so painful, Any Man starts a new discussion, a discussion for EVERYONE, it provides a realm of empathy for men to understand the female experience that has unfortunately rocked too many. While not EVERY female has experienced sexual assault first hand, many can name at least one close friend that has, or even detail an experience where they’ve been utterly terrified both walking home alone at night or at a party full of people.
On a lighter subject, this book incorporates the proven talent of Tamblyn’s writing, in parts written in prose as it flips between the men subjected to Maude’s horrific acts. From the tweets, newscasts and internal dialogue inserted into the pages of this timely read, Tamblyn nails it on all fronts!