Tara Atkinson’s New E-Book Is About a Nameless Woman Who Dates Faceless Men

Depending on how you read it, the book is a comedy or a tragedy.

“I have a boyfriend.”

The main character in Tara Atkinson’s new novella, Boyfriends, says that multiple times, but it’s not a statement of ownership or an appreciation of a fact. Instead, she uses the sentence as a talisman to ward off other guys when they get creepy, when they try to make a move on her. It’s not enough that she’s simply not interested in the men. She has to announce that she “belongs” to another man before they’ll leave her alone. Only if she’s taken will they stop trying to fuck her. So she tells them that—sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not—and they leave her alone.

Boyfriends is the story of an unnamed protagonist from youth to adulthood, but it tracks her life only as it relates to her boyfriends. The story really gets started only when a man—OK, a boy—notices her for the first time:

“At church the next Sunday Miles passes her a note written on the program.

‘You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I want to kiss you forever. Will you go out with me?’

She writes ‘yes’ and passes it back.

For the rest of high school he is her boyfriend.”

It’s that simple: Say yes to a single clumsy advance, and in the next instant your identity has been sorted out for the next four years. That “yes” changes her life forever; she gradually loses her best friend (whose name, hilariously, is Ally) because her boyfriend changes the chemical balance of their friendship. It affects her choice of schools. It directs the flow of her future romantic relationships.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition, or here online at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage

at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

Evan Flory-Barnes (center) preps for On Loving the Muse and Family with his therapist. Photo by Shasta Bree
Working It Out

Evan Flory-Barnes is finally stepping into the theatrical spotlight. All it took was some therapy.

The family of <em>Hir</em>. Photo by John McLellan
The Sunset of Masculinity

Hir at ArtsWest gives trans voices a stage to dismantle the normative.

Robert Colescott, <em>George Washington Carver Crossing the Delaware: Page from an American History Textbook</em>, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 84 x 108 in. Courtesy Seattle Art Museum, photo by Jean Paul Torno
Re-Presenting Black History in Art

Seattle museums look to foster a conversation with their spring visual art exhibits.

Paula Madrigal teaches young Latinx musicians via her Young String Project Outreach. Photo by Ted Zee
Ballard Civic Orchestra Gives Seattle a Latinx Orchestral Voice

Led by immigrant Paula Madrigal’s strong vision, the group reaches audiences both young and old.

Photo Courtesy Chuff Media
                                Lorde.
Spring Arts 2018 Critics’ Picks

Plan out your calendar with our selections for the season’s best entertainment events.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Ani Collier
The Bleeding of Ballet

Technique and transgression fill stages this spring as two styles become one.

Illustration by Taylor Dow
Social Studies

A solar eclipse in Aquarius reveals what’s next.

Chawick Boseman as Black Panther. Photo courtesy Marvel Studios
Serious Power

Black Panther builds a stunning sci-fi African world, but could use more comic book fun.

Most Read