cover image Any Man

Any Man

Amber Tamblyn. Harper Perennial, $15.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-268892-7

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. [em]25,000-copy announced first printing. Agent: Anthony Mattero, Foundry Literary + Media. (June) [/em]