The Book Report: Any Man by Amber Tamblyn
I spend most of my time commuting. The commute never bothers me because, while the train stalls, I am transported to another world through the magic of books. People always ask me how I find time to read, and just like working out, you have to make the time.
This week, I finally finished reading Any Man by Amber Tamblyn. This was the toughest book to get through, not because it was boring or the complexity of her style, but for the emotional content.
I picked up this book on the first of May at Strand Bookstore, and began reading during my subway ride home. By page twenty my heart was heavy, there was a lump in my throat, and my breathing slowed down. I closed the book, and told myself to take a deep breath, this book is going to be a big learning lesson.
Amber Tamblyn (you may remember her from the movie, The Ring) is a stunning genius in her debut novel. Any Man is a poetic, suspense filled journey through the perspectives of victims of a serial rapist, who is a woman targeting men.
These men share their pain, anger, shame... "How can it happen to me?", is the question they all ask themselves everyday... "How do I move forward from this?", is the question they ask themselves in some very simple moments that trigger the pain of their violation.
You hear their perspective through interactions with the detective investigating the case, and your heart aches for them as they relive the moments while making the effort to remain detached.
Your heart aches for them as they have to communicate their sexual exploitation to their spouse, children, siblings, father, and even more painful... themselves.
Your heart aches for them as they manage their trauma, internalize their pain, and in some cases completely destroy themselves.
Your heart feels warmth and safety when they find some peace by forming a support group to share their experiences and journey towards healing. The power of their voice being heard telling their story and received with compassion, instead being sensationalized, it makes you really think about what media does to rape victims.
Your heart finds light in the men who hunt for liberation from the pain, and while each one of them have their own journey, they all recognize that the freedom came when they let go of the pain, and breathed a new life into their soul by sharing their voices and supporting each other.
It took me five months! FIVE MONTHS to finish it! I cried on the subway, cried in waiting rooms, and despite the weight of this book, it is a very necessary read. Amber's writing is groundbreaking, the way she incorporates digital interaction and highlights the voice of a new generation feels eerily relatable. She also opens your mind to explore how people process pain, how people's opinion affect healing, how everything is connected. I closed this book learning a new depth of compassion, experiencing a new view of how men perceive themselves, and opened a new door of emotional intelligence.
I will say, it takes guts to write a book like this, and I commend Amber Tamblyn for diving in and sharing this with the world. I believe that everyone needs to experience the voices she's highlighting in this novel, it will build a bridge between you and every person around you, because after reading Any Man you recognize that maybe you cannot even fathom the pain one can endure.