Hi everyone. Over the last three months I would say I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. My Goodreads goal was hanging over me like a rain cloud and I didn’t find anything that really gripped my attention. Skip forward to me heading home for Christmas, looking over my TBR shelf and picking up Eliza Clark’s Boy Parts. I cannot believe I waited this long to read this masterpiece.
Irina obsessively takes explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her, scouted from the streets of Newcastle. Placed on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, she is offered an exhibition at a fashionable London art gallery, promising to revive her career in the art world and offering an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema. The news triggers a self-destructive tailspin, centred around Irina’s relationship with her obsessive best friend, and a shy young man from her local supermarket who has attracted her attention…
One of the best things I found whilst reading this, debut novel, was how realistic aspects of it felt. Irina’s inner voice is definitely unreliable but she has a certain charm throughout the novel. She is straight to the point and as a reader this definitely kept the pace up. There isn’t really a large plot aspect so Irina definitely needed to carry the novel, which she most definitely did. Even in the moments were Irina is on drugs or is debating with herself of the murder of a young man she gripped my attention fully. I didn’t like her character, in fact she is rather manipulative and domineering (qualities which usually put me off a character) but Clark never suggested that Irina was anything but a morally grey person. There isn’t much in a way of redemption for Irina and she certainly doesn’t deserve one but still you do find yourself almost rooting for her in a strange way. This for me is a sign of a great dark-humoured novel.
The interplay of text messages and emails is not a new format in storytelling but Clark’s use of it intermittently does keep the novel at a good pace. Of all the social media formats used my favourite was definitely reading Flo’s blog. I feel as though that allowed readers to get a better understanding of Irina’s actual character. Although, like Irina, Flo can be considered unreliable I saw her blog post as a true insight to Irina’s character. The previous mentions of manipulation, their relationship etc. made Irina fuller in my mind. A character who solely remained in the messages was Mister B. I need a whole book about this person. In the few mentions they received and the tone of the novel as a whole I want to know why this person is so enamoured with Irina’s photos.
Clark’s handling of the serious subject matter was, in my opinion, brilliant. As someone who is relatively new to adult fiction, I felt this was a baptism of fire in terms of descriptions of drug use. It was shocking but not purely for the sake of shock value. The scenes which went in depth into the use of drugs were well written as I feel as thought I would have been completely put off the novel if the drug use had been glorified like in previous reads of mine. One of the most interesting things within this book for me were the sections devoted to Irina looking back at her past art projects. As someone who isn’t keen on art/photography I thought it would be quite boring but I was really wrong. Seeing Irina’s life and development through her own opinions of her previous work was a really interesting way to convey past events without telling the reader directly.
To sum up I really enjoyed this book. I flew through it. The writing style had me hooked from the beginning and I will definitely be reading whatever Eliza Clark brings out in the future. I gave Boy Parts 5 stars on Goodreads.
- Boy Parts: Eliza Clark
- Published by: Influx Press, 2020
- Number of Pages: 297
- Trigger Warnings: drug use, rape, sexual assault, violence, self-harm.