The Glass Eye) was raped during her sophomore year of college, and in this powerful memoir, she confronts her assailant, a man she calls Mark. Vanasco and Mark became friends at 13, and in 2003, while on break from Northwestern University, Vanasco attended a party at the house where Mark lived. She became drunk and Mark took her to his room in the basement. Vanasco graphically describes what followed: Mark undressed her, penetrated her vaginally with his fingers, masturbated over her while she cried, and told her: “It’s just a dream.” Fourteen years later, Vanasco contacted Mark to discuss the assault and here delves into their uncomfortable email exchanges, phone calls, and meetings. Mark has become a remorseful loner, and reveals to her that he’s still a virgin. Vanasco worries about giving him a voice in her book: “But by interviewing him, I also can invert the power dynamic... he’ll probably come across as too defensive. And maybe I want that.” In unadorned prose, the author interweaves her exchanges with Mark with stories of other predatory men she’s known, including a high school teacher who punished her after she rejected him. This is a painful reminder of the ugly ways some men treat women, and Vanasco’s nuanced story will resonate with those who’ve endured sexual inappropriateness in any form. (Oct.)
"Vanasco is a formidable talent."
"Gorgeous, harrowing, heartbreaking."
Bustle - Carmen Maria Machado
"Heartfelt, painful, and essential."
"Perhaps the most important book of the season."
"A literary feminist miracle."
"A rigorous and nuanced investigation."
"Cuts through the silence of deep betrayal."
"Sets the canon of #MeToo-era creative nonfiction on fire. . . . Inimitable."
"Wickedly clever and powerful."
"A gripping read and true fodder for the necessary reckoning with toxic masculinity."
"About how important it is to speak about these oft-silenced experiences that cause so many to feel ashamed, scared, and alone."
"A remarkably nuanced account of the complicated and confusing emotions that surface when your rapist is someone you knew and trusted."
"Bold, unsettling, and timely. . . . A reckoning with injustice."
TIME - Laurie Halse Anderson
"Interrogates the terms of betrayal and the limits of redemption."
"Exactly the book we need right now. . . . I wish everyone in this country would read it."
"Thought-provoking, unmooring, and haunting."
"A stunning work of meta nonfiction. . . . Vanasco’s narrative pushes far past the flattened media narrative of Me Too and asks uncomfortable questions about how to talk about rape culture, toxic masculinity and gender, justice, and resilience."
"Explores the common experience of rape with uncommon nuance and intense tenderness."
"About violence and forgiveness, about friendship and the unwanted title of victim, about digging deeper and deeper to seek answers."
The New York Times Book Review
"Vanasco immediately makes you wonder how we can take so much about sexual assault for granted."
The Times Literary Supplement
"An essential, unforgettable work."
"Striking. . . . Creates a language for something we don’t talk about."
"A cuttingly funny meta-meditation on her own pain in the context of #MeToo."
"Intrepid. . . . A work that has the potential to change the way we think and talk about rape and the people who commit it."
"There is so much power in these pages."
As part of the process of healing from her 2003 rape, Vanasco (English, Towson Univ.;
The Glass Eye) decides to talk to her rapist, her childhood best friend. This memoir contains the raw and open conversations with her friends and family as well as transcripts of exchanges with the man who raped her. At times the text is linear, at other times fragmented, as the author explores memories and feelings. This book is not only about the author's own experiences, but how sexual assault and rape has impacted other people in her life. It touches on the conversations people have about sexual assault and more important, the dialogs not had. VERDICT This fiercely written, sobering account of actions that alter lives forever is recommended for students of sociology, gender studies, and psychology, as well as general readers wishing to learn more about the effects of sexual assault and rape. —Meghan Dowell, Carroll Uni., Waukesha, WI
After 14 years, a survivor of rape chronicles her interviews with the man who assaulted her, a former friend.
Inside the swirling "zeitgeist" of the #MeToo movement, Vanasco (English/Towson Univ.;
The Glass Eye, 2017) decided not only to write about the experience that still gives her nightmares, but also to include the perspective of the person who raped her. Over emails, phone calls, and in-person conversations, the author interviewed her former friend, Mark, and tried to make sense of his inexplicable betrayal as well as her own ambivalence toward him: "I doubt I'm the only woman sexually assaulted by a friend and confused about her feelings," she writes. At every step of this harrowing process, from deciding how to approach Mark after years without contact to transcribing and interpreting their conversations, the author scrutinizes her own motivations, her compulsive caretaking of Mark's discomfort during their discussions, and the lasting impact of the trauma that he caused her. Perspectives from Vanasco's friends, her partner, and her therapist also figure heavily into the narrative, emphasizing how crucial it is for survivors to have wide networks of support. With deep self-consciousness, courage, and nuance, the author reveals the inner universe of her survivorship and interrogates the notion that rapists are two-dimensionally evil. A friend of Vanasco's reflects, "how can someone who seems so harmless or acts so well or is so intelligent be capable of committing what is understandably kind of an evil act and how can it happen?" Though the author does not exactly answer these questions through her interviews with Mark, her engrossing, complex, incisive testament to the banality of violence is not a desolate narrative. Instead, Vanasco invites her readers to understand the complicated humanity involved in both causing and experiencing harm, leaving the limits and possibilities of accountability and healing as urgent, open questions.
An extraordinarily brave work of self- and cultural reflection.