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

Seattle Asian American Film Festival 2019 Picks

Make the most of the cultural cinematic event with these four selections.

Britney Barber (center) and Samantha Demboski (left) perform in ‘Empty Orchestra.’ Photo courtesy Jet City Improv
Making It Up As They Go Along

Jet City Improv’s retributive actions towards a former player raise issues of the comedy institution’s staff culture.

‘Roma’ projects to be the big winner at the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday. Photo by Carlos Somonte
And The Winner Is: 2019 Oscars Preditions

Who will take home the awards on cinema’s biggest night?

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

Mads Mikkelsen stars in Seattle’s current weather… I mean, ‘Arctic.’ Photo by Helen Sloan/Bleecker Street
Mads Mikkelsen Delivers a Tour de Force in ‘Arctic’

The near-silent performance makes this survival film transcend the genre.

After winning the Album of the Year Grammy for ‘Golden Hour,’ Kacey Musgraves yee-haws into town.
Pick List: Kacey Musgraves, Jen Kirkman, ‘The Passage’

The week’s best entertainment options.

Cherdonna Shinatra has a laugh during ‘<em>Ditch</em>.’ Photo by Jenny May Peterson
Clowning Around at the Frye with Cherdonna Shinatra’s ‘Ditch’

The colorful daily dance performance examines performative femininity and people-pleasing.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

The upbeat everyman Emmet remains cheerful even in post-apocalyptic settings. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Everything’s Still Awesome

‘The Lego Movie 2’ builds on the success of the original with more humorous pop culture-drenched adventure.

Susan Lieu performs a version of 140 LBS at Northwest New Works in 2018. Photo by Joe Iano
Susan Lieu Feels The Weight of Death and Beauty

Her one-woman show ‘140 LBS’ confronts her mother’s death via plastic surgery malpractice.