Review: All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler

9781632868046The 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.

Published: 19-10-2017
Format: Hardback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 144
ISBN: 9781632868046
Imprint: Bloomsbury USA
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm

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