Posted 20 hours ago

Boy Parts

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Eliza Clark explores gender issues and power dynamics, sexuality, consent, gentrification and quite a lot more. I guess I’m Pippin, which is strange because I’ve never identified much with the Hobbits before, and I’m actually a little annoyed that this is the position I’m in. I also didn't really like the dialogue which I thought was formatted a little weird and maybe could have been a little more realistic?

from here, we see glimpses of her past in fleeting hallucinatory and hazy flashbacks where there is no definitive line between imagination and reality. People always conflate beauty with goodness … I can just cry a bit, talk like I’m daft, tease my hair up like a televangelist,” she scoffs. Yet for all the power Irina exhibits over others, there is still the aspect of a patriarchal society she works within and how dangerous it is for women.Still at a relatively early stage in the creative process, the four women – Greer, Joyce, Kelly and Clark – are figuring things out. But digging through her archive throws up repressed memories, and so begins a spiral of self-destruction and violence towards her young male muses during their shoots – “Another dig at his mangled nipple elicits a high-pitched, piggy squeal” – that leaves the reader queasy. Boy Parts is the incendiary debut novel from Eliza Clark, a pitch-black comedy both shocking and hilarious, fearlessly exploring the taboos of sexuality and gender roles in the twenty-first century. She obsessively takes explicit photographs of average-looking men she scouts from the streets of Newcastle while her dead-end bar job slips away; she's more interested in drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema.

it is hinted that irina has become this way because she suffered sexual abuse in her childhood and teenage years. Anyway, she goes to this party with her spineless friend who reminds her that even if she acts all hardcore she is a vulnerable woman. Joyce hopes audiences will leave with different ideas of what Irina is or isn’t capable of doing: “I’d like it if they argued about that afterwards. And you might say that the narrative is less concerned about mapping out the creative process preceding these photos than with over-emphasising what the photos themselves signify. Irina has a sexual encounter where the partner doesn’t listen to her when she says she wants to be on top.There is also a lot of looking at how men with money can elbow their way into anything despite mediocrity, that there is ‘ still this entitled, still this generic, still this wealth of privilege and connections filling a void where there should be talent,’ and when they don’t get what they want they lash out. She poses them in photographs in ways that subvert the male gaze-heavy fetish photographs that show women in peril or pain. It made me really sad but it wasn't as graphic as what happens to the people in this book, which somehow still didn't gross me out as much as the opening paragraph where the heroine is about to drunkenly regurgitate a sandwich. For an author whose entire online presence is built on wokeness (I found this book through her Guardian interview and then her twitter) there’s some problematic shit in here. the homoerotic over-current of the lyrics while we're both sat in the living room in our bras and curlers is just.

There’s something dangerous about the character and the way that she approaches the world, Joyce thinks. However, the way the narrative meanders about without any real direction or without the kind of piercing commentary that makes up for vacuous storylines…I am left wondering why, why, why did we get this scene?However, says Greer, Clark also shows how easily her work gets swallowed by “the machine of capitalism and the patriarchy of the art world”. She flips gender roles on their head, pushes the boundaries of consent beyond their limit, and everything seems unstable. I read Lolita and while it did repulse me (as intended) I didn’t hate it because it was from the pov of a p*dophile. 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.

and so irina performs this facsimile of male power both in her art and her personal life, but it continually fails: after all a photograph is just a photograph, and there's a persistent failure of the men she assaults to respond to it with any real gravitas, because women are rarely perceived as a legitimate threat to a man's physical or mental wellbeing, and this leads to irina's dissociation - is she really doing the things she thinks she's doing if no one's reacting to them accordingly? Eliza Clark did an amazing job with this incredibly original debut and I was intrigued from the first page.Speaking of Tarantino if you thought that Uma Thurman's character in that or Kill Bill have some merit…well, you might like Boy Parts after all. 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.

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