Book review: 100 Boyfriends

I feel like 100 Boyfriends by Brontez Purnell (published in February 2021) is very much the topic of conversation when gay literature is being discussed at the moment. This is the fourth book Purnell has published but the first time I’m reading the author.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get into this book. It struck me as both repetitive and disconnected. Page-after-page of random hook ups without any real connection between them execpt for the inner monologue, narrating sexual interludes with a few fleeting gay relationships thrown in every 30 or 40 pages. Perhaps my age and relationship status are barriers to fully appreciating the novel but that isn’t to say I couldn’t relate – I could. It is just that after 30 or 40 pages, I got the point and the next 120 pages became a blur of sexscapades that were neither titillating or enlightening. I’ve heard people describe the book as funny, foul-mouthed and unapologetic. I agree with foul-mouthed and unapologetic, but I don’t think the book was funny. Maybe ironic would be a better way to describe it. Purnell pulls no punches in describing the men, sex or himself — for the record all are found lacking, which makes it more depressing than relatable.

The epilogue, fifteen pages about hook-ups from a self-proclaimed “Rouge King of California Garage Rock” who toured Europe with a quick stop in Dubai, was interesting. I would’ve loved to have read more about that experience, but that might have more to do with my overwhelming desire to travel, after living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

While this wasn’t my favorite book, it has piqued my interest. Purnell can write and maybe that was why I ultimately was let down by the book. I’m intrigued enough that I’ll probably purchase another book of his, hoping there is more of a story to sink my teeth into. If you’ve read any of his other books, I’d love a recommendation.

If you’re interested in purchasing this book and open to supporting local bookstores, try one of the links I’ve shared. The links below will take you right to the book so you can order it online in just a couple of clicks. Alternatively, you can check your local library for a copy of this book. Here is a link to the BPL copy for 100 Boyfriends.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square
Porter Square Bookstore in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe in Back Bay

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