A scrappy young skateboarder's story of underground worlds and fringe existences, confusing family relationships and the struggle for intimacy.
"Tara Jepsen's Like a Dog is outrageously funny and soul-scrapingly grim, in the tradition of our most intrepid, shameless, and shame-filled comedians and storytellers. It also announces a singular new voice in American fiction—one which is deeply alive, hard-hitting, and tender."––Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
"This book beat the crap out of me. I am bruised and laughing. Thank you Tara Jepsen, may I have another?"—Daniel Handler, author of All The Dirty Parts
"Tara Jepsen captures the absurd, animal humor of residing in a human female body on planet Earth like no other, and Like a Dog sets it loose within a hazy California underground of abandoned skate pools, weed farms and comedy open mics. Eccentric and insidery, taking on the bonds of family and addiction, the effort to find a life and the drive to end it, Like a Dog brims with hyper-conscious gems of hilarity and pathos."––Michelle Tea, author of Modern Tarot
Paloma is aimlessly winging it through life. A skateboarder in her early 30s, she takes low-paying jobs, drinks neon-colored wine coolers in the park with her best friend, and drives to the Central Valley to skate the empty swimming pools dotting the sun-blasted landscape. Paloma struggles to have a relationship with her brother Peter, whose opiate addiction makes that nearly impossible. She enjoys occasional doses of something like closeness whenever Peter is sober, and these rare moments keep her lunging for his affections. Her delusions about the nature of addiction—along with a steady intake of alcohol—manage to keep the looming threat of his death by overdose at a comfortable enough distance.
When Peter lands a lucrative position managing a pot farm in Mendocino County, he offers Paloma a job. She shines in her new role, selling weed to celebrities in Los Angeles and making good money for the first time. With a new sense of self-confidence she decides to try out the world of stand-up comedy, and though she's absolutely terrible at it, she's happier than she's ever been. As Peter slides into a dangerous spiral, Paloma does her best to roll with the ups and downs, life's beginnings and endings.
"Jepsen proves herself a master of fusing humor and tragedy as she takes us on a psychological road trip through California's suburban wastelands, its cities of hope, and rural cash crop operations, mixing no less than legal skateboarding adventures, fierce, quirky desire, and tragic loss into a powerful and familiar coming of age story."––Beth Stephens, artist, filmmaker and UCSC professor
"Tara's stories about sibling love, the struggle of drug addiction, and the bonding power of skateboard culture, will break reader's hearts wide open. So detailed and real, it's like being there. This book captures the gritty, feisty spirit of Sister Spit at its best."––Annie Sprinkle, artist and sexologist
"Tara Jepsen's blunt eloquence takes us deep into the difficulty of our desires, where the things we most want—intimacy, realness, safety, guarantees—are the things we are the least likely to get. In the desolate hardscapes and nowheres of California, north and south, she reveals how closeness can still be alienating: a brutal fact of her stark realism that brings both laughter and tears.––Karen Tongson, Author, USC Professor and Co-host of Pop Rocket Podcast
"How can this be Tara Jepsen's first book? Her inimitable voice has been a beloved part of the underground art scene for years—in comedy, performance, and personal essays. With her fiction debut, she turns all her pathos and humor on her protagonist Paloma as she explores the eternal pursuit for love and meaning among and between humans. Jepsen's specialty is the off-kilter observation or indignant proclamation that hits you in the funny bone and then resonates with real soul. I loved this book. I’m ecstatic she could lasso her eccentric and significant cosmology and weave it into this beautiful story."––Beth Lisick, author of Yokohama Threeway and Other Stories, co-founder of the Porchlight Storytelling Series
"Tara Jepsen's protagonist is a frenetic pinball in a machine of hilarity, recklessness, and existential ennui. Mining the MTV generation's legacy of self-doubt, substance abuse, and unappeasable search for meaning, Jepsen excavates a queer feminist parable of survival that is simultaneously bombastic and completely peaceful at it's core."––Zackary Drucker, artist, producer, friend
Tara Jepsen is a writer and actor living in Los Angeles. She's appeared in the award-winning series, Transparent, and her writing has been published by The Believer and elsewhere.