Boy Parts by Eliza Clark
published : July 2020
my rating : ★★★★★
Irena is a photographer who captures men in feminine, sultry poses. She gets an art exhibition and is preparing for it, all the while obsessing over Eddie from Tesco, doing ridiculous amounts of drugs, and hanging with her best friend Flo.
this is a character study in the best sense of the word. Irena is awful, narcissistic, egotistical, selfish. you can’t help but follow her down the rabbit holes she creates for herself.
❝ But Flo has known me for such a long time. She’s watched me putrefy, and twist, and get thinner and meaner, and stranger.”
one thing that stuck out to me while reading this is how much i related to Irena. during my drug fueled, sex romp days i was just like her. selfish and messed up all the time and using confidence and drugs to mask my insecurity. it made me uneasy, this comparison, because the more you read, you expect her to improve, to mature, to pull through her shortcomings. spoiler alert, she is who she is and she isn’t changing for anybody.
character study aside, and it’s a great one, the writing is open and easy to read, inviting you into the story. when i was reading, i felt like i was a part of that world. i was in Irena’s apartment, i was at the club, i was with her every step of the way. the fact that this a DEBUT novel by Clark is really impressive because the tone of the writing is so well done.
Flo as a side character is driveling and pathetic and you feel for her. she’s the slack in tension throughout the story which is a huge relief because living in Irena’s brain for 200+ pages can be taxing. not in a bad way, just in an emotionally draining way.
the ending is banging. i ripped through the last half of the book. it’s a train wreck, an absolute state of carnage, and Irena, though confident with each step, is starting to lose it. she’s hallucinating, acting out on purpose to gauge reactions.
❝ I’m so angry I can feel it in my cunt; muscles twinging, balling up like a fist. My acrylic nails are digging into the meat of my palms. I could slap his phone out of his hand and stamp on it. I could slap him.”
this book made me uncomfortable, introspective, and wild. it made me wanna go to art school and party like a maniac. i loved reading it and also (maybe) never want to read it ever again because it made me so anxious.
the ending was pure ART. rip out the last page and put it in a gallery ART.
will highly recommend this one to anybody who will listen.
and apparently Eliza is working on a new book, Penance, scheduled to release July in 2023! i’ll be keeping my ear to the ground for that one for sure.
thanks for reading!