Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – English Psycho

Boy Parts – English Psycho.  A searing account of an artist trying to make it big whilst living life to the full. 

Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – English Psycho.  A searing account of an artist trying to make it big whilst living life to the full.  Her self-absorbed arrogance and living for today lifestyle is documented in a casual way.  The near sexual assault and drug overdose are taken as just part of the lifestyle.

The main character, Irina, talks to us as about her high life and is sharply drawn.  At first she is shown as lacking self awareness, so self absorbed. For a character that lives a for today she is soaks up the hangovers and over doses with ease.

She is introduced to us as a barmaid but we soon learn she is a photographic artist and who, unlike most of her contemporaries, gets an offer of a place in a show.  The difference is her art is fetishistic photography of young men in compromising positions – some of which are beyond normal rules of ethical responsibility.  Irina has a slightly unusual vocation in meeting vulnerable young men and taking them back to her studio to take photographs of them in fetishistic poses; she will play the dominatrix.

The art world is full of struggling artistes who may never make it.   But Irina randomly lands on her feet with an offer of an exhibition.  We are introduced to previous men she picked up as she scours her portfolio for pictures.  She lives an edgy lifestyle of alcoholism and drug taking whilst trying to maintain her instagram image for her followers.  To be so hedonistic is also close to self-destructive.  It certainly makes for interesting reading.

Irina is well drawn as talented yet arrogant. But with a magnetic personality.  This makes for a light story but no less interesting in her interactions with men and her close friends, but her dismissive attitude to everyone around her makes it difficult to relate to.  Her self-designated best friend is an ex-lover who still adores her – it’s a little creepy.

It’s high point is when she finally has a wall at a fetish art gallery only that a young man is seriously annoyed that her artwork is more important than his and she eventually takes him back to her studio for an S&M photo session.  The later chapters are flabby as Irina increasingly has flashbacks of the life behind her she is trying to forget but catches up with her.  Ultimately, it tails off towards the end as there is no real plot here.

It is a high paced read that is very much in the moment but lacks much in the way of depth.  Irina is is a strong female whilst the men are weak and pathetic.  Her narration is authentic, brutal and dark in its humour.  The lifestyle is hard to keep up and her main friend is also strained as her boyfriend sees straight through her.  And that is part of the issue with the novel.  Irina is written as someone who is incapable of holding meaningful relationships – her friendship with her mother and best friend are both toxic.  Not someone that we feel empathy for but ultimately a damaged soul.  It is almost as if we are happy to finish this disturbing novel.  It has a feel of being an updated version of American Psycho – an English Psycho for the twenty-first century.

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