Thirty-five years ago, an Australian novel that focused on the lives of teenagers growing up in Sydney’s southern beaches in the 1970s took a refreshingly realistic look at adolescent sex.
But a new novel touching on similar themes by Echonetdaily columnist, comedian and writer Mandy Nolan, called Boyfriends We’ve All Had (and Shouldn’t Have) offers a much more insightful honesty on the topic, given its autobiographical nature.
And because of this, the book, launched last week at Frankie Brown restaurant in Byron Bay by Mandy and fellow author and actor Steve Bisley, has laugh-out-loud moments almost on every page, such is her delicious wit and turn of phrase.
Whereas the title suggests Mandy’s varied boyfriends/partners are hung out to ridicule, the tone is much more self-deprecating than expected, along the lines of her general thesis that ‘love is a curved ball which makes dicks of us all’.
Mandy admitted as much at the standing-room-only book launch, saying she had embellished some of the close and intimate encounters, characters and their behaviour to emphasise the pathos or bathos of it all.
Many of the men portrayed are indeed archetypal, which is why this book will resonate with women and men everywhere.
Humility is one of Mandy’s stocks-in-trade (as a standup comic, it has to be) and this novel shows how a little self-pasting goes a long way in lancing, so to speak, the humour out.
The very first few lines of the book give readers an inkling of the smorgasbord of vignettes depicting her various relationships which follow: If my heart was a passport, then the pages have been inked with the names of lovers ranging from the wild to the wondrous to the downright weird. These aren’t however, just a list of hopeless and failed relationships; these are the stamps of the places I have been.
The quest to find Mr Perfect, as for many women, has been a rocky but nonetheless interesting road for Mandy who told the book-launch audience she was now happily settled in conjugal bliss with the man of her life.
It may be that practice makes perfect, but Mandy sees perfection only in the eyes of the beholder.
This was borne out in a touching finale to her interview with Steve Bisley when Mandy recounted how her youngest daughter, a toddler, had recently asked her if ‘daddy was Prince Charming’, to which Mum answered No, but that he came ‘pretty close’.
It’s a book anyone who’s been in an intimate relationship will no doubt relate to, one that every man (or boy) should read, and one every woman will get a big belly laugh from.
Boyfriends We’ve All Had (and Shouldn’t Have), published by Finch Publishing Pty Ltd, can be purchased at leading bookstores or at www.finch.com.au.