Daniel Handler discusses his new novel, All the Dirty Parts, with Matthew Zapruder.
Praise for All the Dirty Parts
"Take one sex-crazed teenage boy and take him seriously. Don't make him the butt of an easy joke. Don't make him the star of a humiliation comedy. Let him be an idiot, a jerk, a cad, a hero. Make his desire into a rocket shooting him out of this too small life. Show his loneliness crash-landing him into pieces. It's almost impossible to write tenderly and truthfully about such things. Somehow Handler has done it." - Jenny Offill, author of DEPT. OF SPECULATION
"Sex, desire, love, consent, coercion, sexual identity, porn--Daniel Handler takes it all on in ALL THE DIRTY PARTS. Teenage Cole is simultaneously lovable and troubling, but mostly he is real, and his story not only compelling but a fantastic jumping off point for discussing ethical sexual behavior." - Peggy Orenstein, author of GIRLS & SEX
"A spectacular portrait of teenage male desire. This beautifully concise novel, literally composed of only the dirty parts, had me blushing and laughing and squirming, sometimes all at once. ALL THE DIRTY PARTS is so honest and eloquent about youthful yearning--the pent-up aggression, the confusion, the pure wonder--that it will surely be passed quietly around middle school locker rooms and back-alley libraries everywhere. A joyously lewd yet tender masterpiece." - Isaac Fitzgerald, Buzzfeed Books Editor
About All the Dirty Parts
Cole is a boy in high school. He runs cross country, he sketches, he jokes around with friends. But none of this quite matters next to the allure of sex. "Let me put it this way," he says. "Draw a number line, with zero is you never think about sex and ten is, it's all you think about, and while you are drawing the line, I am thinking about sex."
Cole fantasizes about whomever he's looking at. He consumes and shares pornography. And he sleeps with a lot of girls, which is beginning to earn him a not-quite-savory reputation around school. This leaves him adrift with only his best friend for company, and then something startling starts to happen between them that might be what he's been after all this time-and then he meets Grisaille.
All The Dirty Parts is an unblinking take on teenage desire in a culture of unrelenting explicitness and shunted communication, where sex feels like love, but no one knows what love feels like. With short chapters in the style of Jenny Offill or Mary Robison, Daniel Handler gives us a tender, brutal, funny, intoxicating portrait of an age when the lens of sex tilts the world. "There are love stories galore," Cole tells us, "This isn't that. The story I'm typing is all the dirty parts."