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100 Boyfriends

Brontez Purnell


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One of Vulture's 46 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2021 and one of LitHub and The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of 2021.

"Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous. I laughed and I cried and I laughed until I cried—Brontez Purnell is a marvel." --Bryan Washington, author of Memorial

An irrerverent, sensitive, and inimitable look at gay dysfunction through the eyes of a cult hero

Transgressive, foulmouthed, and brutally funny, Brontez Purnell’s 100 Boyfriends is a revelatory spiral into the imperfect lives of queer men desperately fighting the urge to self-sabotage. As they tiptoe through minefields of romantic, substance-fueled misadventure—from dirty warehouses and gentrified bars in Oakland to desolate farm towns in Alabama—Purnell’s characters strive for belonging in a world that dismisses them for being Black, broke, and queer. In spite of it—or perhaps because of it—they shine.

Armed with a deadpan wit, Purnell finds humor in even the darkest of nadirs with the peerless zeal, insight, and horniness of a gay punk messiah. Together, the slice-of-life tales that writhe within 100 Boyfriends are an inimitable tour of an unexposed queer underbelly. Holding them together is the vision of an iconoclastic storyteller, as fearless as he is human.

Praise For 100 Boyfriends

"100 Boyfriends is a collection of short stories so wrigglingly alive and counterculturally refreshing that it deserves a new noun — a pod of whales, a murder of crows, a jubilee of Brontez Purnell stories? I’d wager that he sets down the best first lines of any living writer." —Molly Young, Vulture

"This stunning collection of vignettes from artist, punk rocker, and Whiting Award winner Purnell forms a delightfully crass, kaleidoscopic worldview. Each story introduces new heartbreaks and reminders that moments of intimacy often end in loneliness . . . Purnell brilliantly immerses the reader in Black, queer desire with humor, self-awareness, and just the right amount of vulgarity." Publishers Weekly

"American literature has been a bit too polite for the past few decades. Gone are the thrilling and seedy transgressions of a William S. Burroughs or a “J.T. LeRoy.” Brontez Purnell’s 100 Boyfriends rectifies that in its tales about nymphomaniac men looking for transcendence in a fuck. Recalling Samuel Delany’s queer classic Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, the writer, musician, dancer, and director Purnell presents a jaundiced yet often hopeful vision about sex and meaning, asking 'What else is a boyfriend for but to share in mutual epiphany?'" --The Millions

“Brontez Purnell’s 100 Boyfriends is a symphony of sex, trouble and wisdom—as if the composer had sex with each member of the orchestra by way of getting it right. An electric prismatic genre-defying punk literary flight, Purnell is twirling here— I loved every page." --Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

"In the vast history of the universe there is only one Brontez Purnell, and thank god we get him. From cruising to crushes, cumming to closure, 100 Boyfriends is a mandatory read for the funny-sexy lit freaks among us—a candy box of Euro boys and Daddies, blue pills and satanic exes—all told in an addictively-delicious voice by a writer who is somehow both wildly cool and deprecatingly humble at the same time." --Melissa Broder, author of The Pisces and So Sad Today

"Brontez Purnell has such seemingly casual genius that at times you forget you're reading a book and are transported to some couch/bus/basement where the drugs are really good and your friend is really funny, maybe your weird closeted cousin is on HarlemHookups in the corner, and all of a sudden your friend says some fucking Sappho ass, weird ass, brilliant ass bullshit. I love this slut of a book, it’s a slut ass maker. 100 Boyfriends or no new boyfriends at all, Purnell’s autofiction/memoir/whatever the hell this marvelously sad and intoxicating book is shook me up good with its honesty and blunt-to-face endings, the jokes and stories I didn’t know we were allowed to tell outside of circles of faggots and misfits. But this book is in those circles, makes you tea and steals for you, it invites us in, but would we mind shutting the hell up cause it’s a little hungover? The light is coming through the windows so clear." --Danez Smith, author of Homie

“No one writes like Brontez Purnell. It’s not just that he is hilariously irreverent, which he is, but that he reserves reverence for that which is deserving. 100 Boyfriends is like a good lover, at turns vulgar and vulnerable, dirty and desperate, and always grinding toward magic.” --Justin Torres, author of We the Animals

"Scathingly lucid, filthily pure, this is the most astute, witty, acid-tongued and emotionally generous book about relationships—from one night stands to internet no-no’s to ill-conceived crushes to long-term loves, requited and otherwise—I’ve read. Painfully knowing yet never jaded, 100 Boyfriends dissects, explodes, lambasts, and revels in the ugly beauty of imperfect intimacies with prose that consistently puts its finger on the bleeding pulse of contemporary desire. An unforgettable ode to the heart that beats inside every longing body." --Maryse Meijer, author of The Seventh Mansion

"The stories in 100 Boyfriends took me on a journey: They made me laugh. They made me gasp. They made me feel. Brontez Purnell is a vibrant literary voice you won't soon forget. I love this book." --De'Shawn Charles Winslow, author of In West Mills

"Raging against the grain, 100 Boyfriends is an enticing gem full of wit, surprises, and profundity. The same paragraph will make you laugh, make you horny, then make you sad, then make you horny again, but this time with a deepened sense of purpose. Highly recommended, especially if you're in a reading rut and you need to be slapped out of it." --Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)

"100 Boyfriends is very much sex, drugs, rock and roll. Each short segment, anywhere from 3-10 pages on average, is a quick glimpse into the lives of various (and often nameless) gay men just trying to climb through life, often getting laid and high in the process. While that may sound sparse, Purnell truly has a way with prose-- Even singular paragraphs recalling past lovers have the power to make you step back, admiring how sometimes men can be summed up so precisely. Pardon the intense alliteration, but Purnell's prose is truly praise-worthy and deserves to be explored. 100 Boyfriends is jaw-dropping, humorously crude, and sexually, emotionally raw." --Andrew King, University Book Store (WA)

"Nasty, raunch, gorgeous. I get a secondhand thrill from his sexual exploits and am entranced with his running internal dialogue. Purnell writes for the old-school queer punks from the Bay that make it such a vibrant colorful community. Fun and funky. Dark and joyful." --Celeste Orlosky, Santa Cruz Bookshop

"So much gay literary fiction is dark, lonely, shot through with trauma and unhappy endings. In 100 Boyfriends, Brontez Purnell's characters deal with these same things, as so many of us do--but they also highlight the absurdity and comedy of their utterly human lives. It's this balance of the light and shadow of life, of comedy and tragedy, that makes 100 Boyfriends a satisfying read. This utterly original book throws caution and convention to the wind, blending half-page vignettes of individual boyfriends with full coming-of-age short stories. What ties these disparate tales together is Purnell's deep understanding of (occasionally shallow) characters and his ear for hilariously blunt and irreverent dialogue. Imagine a midpoint between David Sedaris and Ocean Vuong or Garth Greenwell, and you'll find this breath of fresh air." --Rayne Stone, Rediscovered Bookshop (Boise, ID)

MCD x FSG Originals, 9780374538989, 192pp.

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

About the Author

Brontez Purnell is a writer, musician, dancer, filmmaker, and performance artist. He is the author of a graphic novel, a novella, a children's book, and the novel Since I Laid My Burden Down. The recipient of a 2018 Whiting Writers' Award for Fiction, he was named one of the thirty-two Black Male Writers of Our Time by T: The New York Times Style Magazine in 2018. Purnell is also the frontman for the band the Younger Lovers, a cofounder of the experimental dance group the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, the creator of the renowned cult zine Fag School, and the director of several short films, music videos, and the documentary Unstoppable Feat: The Dances of Ed Mock. Born in Triana, Alabama, he's lived in Oakland, California, for more than a decade.