The publisher of Daniel Handler’s new adult novella Dirty Parts describes the book as an honest look at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man. This has forced me to reevaluate my adolescence, and my belief that I, too, was an all-too-typical young man, because I wasn’t a sex-crazed teen, and now I feel a little bad about not surrendering to unbridled promiscuity.
So on the one hand, I can’t quite relate to Cole, our narrator, because the allure of sex was never all-consuming; I had far too many comic books and Tom Clancy novels to read. But I can totally relate to first-love and infatuation, and the rawness of adolescence. Those blossoming romances, which grew thorns and cut deeply; the absolute certainty that it all mattered so, so much; that it was all so vitally important, those early relationships, the friendships, the emotions. Confusion over sexuality, over friendships that burst to life and flat-lined depending on the day of the week; confidences broken, new treaties signed. It’s such a frazzled period of our lives, which you can only analyse and appreciate in hindsight, and even then, it sometimes forms a bit of a lump in your throat, or a churning in your guts.
All the Dirty Parts is whimsical, charming, candid and arousing. Few books so succinctly capture a young man’s adolescence; few stories have lingered in my mind as long as this one. Cole is neither a likeable, nor unlikable teenager; he just epitomises the inaneness and heightened-emotion of youth. He is sex-obsessed, every bit the kind of kid I would’ve hated at school, but in the back of my mind, would’ve loved to have been; and then his life gets overly complicated when he falls for a girl, while his best mate explore their sexual identities, which threatens to annul their friendship. Life is a complex, convoluted mess. It sucks, it’s great, we get through it. Handler’s All the Dirty Parts is a wonderful snapshot of this period of our lives.
Imprint: Bloomsbury USA
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm