coming in at 177 pages, purnell’s 100 boyfriends is a chaotic tumble through relationship dynamics – a completed story made up of multiple stories with either one narrator or several. this novel reads like a cake layered with different degrees of hooking up, frosted over with the pang of self worth and wisdom battling it out against wanting to cum.
i started this at 1 am last night and didn’t manage to put it down until 3 am, still making it to start my 7 am shift. that’s kind of the energy to bring into reading this novel, as our protagonist(s) are often in and out of lovers’ lives in an unspoken-but-understood dance of schedules to keep their partnerships out of their cruiseships during such varying times as to say the concept of time is more of a suggestion. if you don’t know what cruising is (but can contextually guess), you’ll have a pretty solid idea by the time you finish this book.
honestly, as a queer person who cruised in their 20s (let’s not lie to ourselves – tinder), parts of this work left me squirming uncomfortably in my seat at the memories of moving in and out of people’s lives, of juggling schedules and looking for different parts of myself in different experiences of different people. purnell plays with the emotional exhaustion that comes when you don’t believe in the work to have a relationship and surround yourself with people also avoiding parts of themselves by hiding in other people juxtaposed with the loneliness that comes after ensuring you have no one: this book has a lot of that. 100 boyfriends offers different life lessons in finding closure in the events we do to ourselves, in the experiences we didn’t have to choose but did.