Review of “Dirty Pretty Things”

Taylor Price, Staff Writer |

“Dirty Pretty Things” is a book of poetry, prose, and short stories written by Michael Faudet that is focused on a lusty kind of romance. Based on the title, I’m shocked my mom was cool with buying me this for Christmas.

I have very mixed feelings about this book. One of the first things that annoyed me was the amount of space on the pages. Often, with the poems, the entire left page was blank. In one case, there was a blank left page and only nine words on the right page. No trees were spared.

It is a lightning fast read, which I don’t think is great because none of the poems or stories require any extra thought. They are all simple and straightforward. I’m fairly certain that the only times things perplexed me was when they simply didn’t make sense. At one point, Faudet compares the unknown outcomes in life to “a soap bubble made by a gentle breath only to be taken by it.” It feels too try-hard and I’m not sure that I understand what he is going for.

His more lavish descriptions use colors and imagery in a pleasing way. In certain passages, I was awed by his use of alliteration.

My attention was caught by the following line: “Seduced by a psychedelic sun that teased and tickled its way across the laughing orange carpet that was the sea.”

But these moments were rare, and like the several fleeting romances in the book, they did not last. To be honest, I got very tired of the phrases “white cotton panties” and “dusty pink nipples” as well as his overuse of the term “wet.” It seems like he tried hard to make his work feel seductive, but it sounds like a teenage boy wrote most of it. I wonder if this might be an artistic choice though, because when Faudet is not referring to sex and bodily fluids, his writing seems much more thought through.  While his imagary is often clichés about oceans, sunsets, and forests, those selections are far less primitive and certainly  contrast the more vulgar passages.

My favorite passage as a whole is called “Writer’s Block.” His description of the scene takes advantage of carefully chosen words.

He describes the lack of inspiration, saying, “My fingers frozen, as the faint gray words fell upon the pristine pages of a battered leather-bound journal. Every sentence formed, a furrow plowed across an empty field, where seeds refused to grow.”

To me, that is a million times more poetic than the countless poems about submissive girls asking him to spread their legs. Truly, this is a trope in the book.

On one of single line pages, it just says, “Put your hands on my knees, she said, and think of me as a book you’ve been dying to read.”

The few women that are described throughout the book are simplified and very similar in nature, because all they want is sex. The only difference seems to be their hair color. Also, they all appear to be wearing skirts and knee high socks constantly. It just feels very unrealistic. It also unnerves me how those descriptions remind me of “Lolita.” The “white panties” I mentioned before infer a virginal quality that Faudet seems to be going for, and it just doesn’t sit well with me.

There are too many small mouths and dirty knees. It’s not sensual; it’s in poor taste. I remember thinking of bad fan-fiction while reading it through the first time.

Overall, I really enjoyed about a quarter of the book. My copy is full of dog-eared pages and I would definitely read it again. His poetry is too short though; he needs to learn to press “Enter” less. I think if he brought more of his prose style into his poetry, it would be beneficial.

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