forthcoming from punctum books early 2024
taking its cues from the new narrative writing movement, like a dog considers how sexual identity is morphed, hidden, and denied by cultural forces like film, pornography, rape culture, and sexual semiotics. the speaker of like a dog, writes about her sexuality, sexual trauma, and relationships in the epistolary form to explore how the personal becomes collective and how overt sexuality is necessary for questioning dominant ideologies. the intimacy (or perhaps voyeurism) that is opened through the epistolary form is balanced with film analysis, focusing on the films of lars von trier, as a way to move away from the speaker’s experiences and into the social forces that seek to define us.
amidst these letters are images from a handwritten journal where blood, hair, vaginal fluids, and bodily residues are used to direct the shape and content of the writing surrounding them. the tactility of the journal delivers the reader to the body, not as an intellectualized object, but rather as the physical, messy, oozing force that it is.
not nonfiction or fiction, in between gossip and scholarly film analysis, like a dog exists in a liminal place. this liminal zone offers the speaker a site to rip away the layers of cultural conditioning surrounding sexuality and relationships, and to peek at what lies beneath. this interrogation of identity may not lead to answers but the speaker of like a dog is able to finally hear her own voice and to begin the work of rebuilding an identity that is bloomed from within.
“like a dog offers intimacy so radical it’s beyond genre. it’s an epistolary sequence, a somatic notebook ritual, a poetics, a feminist politics, a friendship network, an auto-theory, a sexual history, and a hole made by ‘my relationship to this body i was born into, this body labeled as female, this body that is oppressed, fucked and filled.’ it’s also one of the most risky and brilliant representations of post-traumatic stress disorder I’ve ever read, one that acknowledges, as too few do, that ‘ptsd is a life-long disease.’ the unstinting trust samblanet extends to her creative process, her language, and her readers at once tutors, bruises, and humbles us. an antidote to the dissociation sexual violence leaves behind, like a dog is writing that changes what it means to heal.” ~ b., author of poem bitten by a man
“like a dog is a radical and visionary book that moves us to claim the parts of ourselves that we’ve been shamed, bullied, or educated into shutting out. Lauren Samblanet strips all that bullshit away and writes freely from the body, which makes this book become a gushing, honest, messy, healing, intellectual body.” ~ Steven Dunn, author of water & power
“In like a dog, Lauren Samblanet offers a rare, bold, and vulnerable account of nymphomania as a way of inspecting the fraught and imperceptible lines between empowered, autonomous sexual desire and oppressive, nonconsensual sexual conditioning. At once a capitalist critique and erotic confessional, Samblanet unfolds a personal sexual history that attempts to apprehend capitalism’s construction of feminized guilt and the ways it is painfully grafted onto erotic awakening, sexuality, desire, intimacy, and trauma. Samblanet’s epistolary continuum performs as an antidote to feminized guilt, writing the inward, out, and thereby resisting the patriarchal silencing that constructs veils of shame around the erotic and vulnerable knowledge of integrous and embodied femme desire. That ‘…the i is never far from the we. [then] to speak honestly about our lives and the darkness within them is to speak honestly about the ideologies and culture we are steeped in.’ And with this wisdom driving her project, Samblanet scribes her body onto the page; in streaks of menstrual blood, cum, and clumps of hair, we witness her keen poetics of discharge as an act of resistance and creative collaboration against pre-scribed intimacy, spilling ourself to see ourselves.” ~ Serena Chopra