About this deal
Boy Parts follows the exploits of Irina Sturges, an acerbic Geordie fetish photographer who specialises in shooting 'interesting'-looking men. There was something profoundly simplistic about the way these themes are explored and the narrator is one of the dullest galls I have ever had the misfortune to read about. Shocked to hear it comes in pints, and wondering if my simple Hobbit songs are good enough for these grand halls and their talking toilets.
I think some people use unreliable narrators as a narrative Get Out of Jail Free card, which-- no, don't do that. Flo (i had to check her name, that's how memorable she is) is a rip off of Reva from MYORAR who exists to be the classic female friend in love with our female protagonist who does not and will not ever reciprocate her feelings. But the lack of funding and opportunities in the north, and particularly the north-east, is still a problem. she manipulates everyone around her and is just downright cruel most of the time, but she’s also very witty and you’re further drawn into the story just to find out what she’s going to say next.Irina is the perfect balance of antiheroine and villain, a protagonist who reflects the reader in glittering little shards as often as she repulses. Irina, a beautiful twentysomething, picks up mediocre-looking men in places such as Tesco and photographs them in compromising positions. The narrative doesn’t convey Irina’s creative process in a convincing way, in fact, I was left with the impression that—and here i must briefly break from my death of the author approach and acknowledge the existence of the author—whoever was behind the story was either not particularly familiar with photography or not interested in going into detail about it (as i said this an impression i formed, not a fact). this is definitely the feeling you’re left with once you reach the rather hallucinogenic end of this book, but the wild ride to get there is pretty fun. also on a tangentially similar note i genuinely i knew i was going to love this book when i got to this part: ".
Also, for someone who goes on scathing takes about ‘white people’ who pretend they are not ‘white’ but dance to The Smiths in this 'post-racist-Morrissey’ era and expresses frustration about the misogyny and classism rampant in her day-to-day life…it seemed weird that she would think sh*t like this ("I know I’m white, but there’s just a lot of white people White People-ing in a very small area, like it’s just some very, very densely packed mayo, you know? Maybe if this book had come out in the 80s, I would be more inclined to forgive or accept its many shortcomings, but since it was published in 2020 I have a harder time reconciling myself with its unimaginative and superficial exploration of female sexuality, the male gaze, and female rage. And don’t get me started on how large chunks of the narrative make her abuse of men seem so f*cking transgressive and hardcore when it was anything but. This has notably addressed the entertainment industry, with horror stories surfacing of monsters of anywhere from massive wealth like Harvey Weinstein to niche fame like Ryan Adams abusing and harassing women and many have paused to consider how we process the art of monstrous men (such was the title of Claire Dederer’s viral essay, which you can read here). Now it’s been turned into a stage play, adapted by Gillian Greer and starring Aimée Kelly as the wildly unreliable narrator.
The main character is distinctly unappealing, which can sometimes work, but not here, as there is no sense of why she became so morally vacuous in the first place. The ‘hook’, that of a ‘pervy’ female photographer, had potential for the first 30% of the narrative. Boy Parts was such an interesting character study which explored power dynamics within relationships and society as a whole. I can't wait to read Eliza Clark's next book, but I have to say-- the fact that she wrote a character like this slightly terrifies me. but functionally, american psycho is a book that was marketed as being transgressive, and i don't think that it is, bc i think people conflate genuine acts of subversion/transgression with good ol' shock value and imo nothing's really being ~transgressed when a wealthy white man exploits and abuses his power over others in the way that patrick bateman does - and i'm talking about this bc imo this is why boy parts is so successful.