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Brontez Purnell Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Since I Laid My Burden Down (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Picture Books

The Nightlife of Jacuzzi Gaskett (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

100 Boyfriends (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Cruising Diaries (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Brontez Purnell is a performance artist, writer, filmmaker, musician and dancer that is best known for his debut novel “100 Boyfriends.” He is also the writer of a children’s book, novella, graphic novel and “Since I Laid My Burden Down,” the novel.

Purnell won the Whiting Writers’ Award for Fiction in 2018 and “The New York Times Style Magazine” named him on the list of Black Male Writers of Our Time. Outside of his writing, he is a member of the Younger Lovers band and the frontman of the group.

Brontez also cofounded the Brontez Purnell Dance Company, an experimental dance group, and a creator of the Fag School a renowned school. He has also directed music videos, several short films and “Unstoppable Feat” the documentary.
The author was born in the small town of Triana, Alabama but has lived in California for more than ten years.

Purnell was a zine kid during the 90s and by the time he was 14 he started writing zines. Growing up, he always felt that there was any hope or context of living for someone queer down south and hence he moved to Oakland.

Immediately he arrived, he felt a breath of fresh air after all the crazy stuff and mistakes that had happened in his teenage and young adult years. He arrived in Oakland as a developmentally regressed 18 year old from Alabama who had to move if he was to ever have a life.

As a black punk and queer boy, his mother never let him out of the house as she thought some extremist would kill him. As such, when he got to Alabama, he was forced to grow up in a tremendous way. In some way, he got a lot of guides in his new home but nothing resembling parents.

He was for the most part forced to make his own moral compass as he went along. It was an intense time but he loved this time as it made him into the artist and author that it is today. He loves to think of it as a patchwork blanket or quilt that would disintegrate if any one thread was removed.

While Brontez Purnell never had parents growing up in Oakland, he had several literary and artistic influences which is evident in his works. Among these include Telfar, ThugPop, Shayne Oliver, and Jeremy O. Harris.

He came to love Telfar when he lived in San Francisco for two years in the middle 2000s. During this time Purnell ran the old zine Fag School and it is there that he interviewed the man.

He recently said that whenever he watches ThugPop, Jeremy and Telfar perform he always feels a sense of Black Queer Joy so intense that it can make one cry. He refers to it as an unspoiled joy that lets one immerse himself in the punk world.
As a man that grew up inundated and surrounded by white people trying to control and tell him what to do, they inspired him to try to do something as a black queer man. It is from this that he decided to become an artist and author.

His most popular work “100 Boyfriends” was largely inspired from Bombs Uber California, a work that he did as a solo dance. The dance piece was an exploration of his internal landscape ever since he moved to California from Alabama.

He originally did it as a bunch of wall text while he was living in San Francisco It was that very same text that he would eventually expand into the manuscript for “100 Boyfriends.” He initially intended to write it as prose poetry to show it to his friends but when he won the Whiting Award for it things completely flipped.

It was then that he was called up by FSG who wanted to see if he had any more manuscripts. He had started writing the manuscript of “100 Boyfriends” and this is what became the blockbuster debut.

Nonetheless, he has said that much of his art is as a result of the many conversations he has each day. He constantly talks to his art in something akin to how you would talk to a plant and water it. He often talks to his work in the same way asking what it needs and makes adjustments accordingly.
This is how he worked on his manuscript for “100 Boyfriends,” which he explains as how we carry around the ghosts of the people we have been in relationships with and the various people they too have been with.

As compared to other novelists and other gay literature, the “Since I Laid My Burdens Down” novel by Brontez Purnell is very different from what you can read out there.
Compared to works such as “Querelle of Brest” by Jean Genet or “The Swimming-Pool Library” by Alan Hollinghurst all have lead characters whose lives are all full of same sex relationships of a short nature and centered on sexual hookups.

Most of these works define their lives through sex unlike Deshawn for whom sex is central though the burden of immorality and criminality in his life is lighter. The lead in “Since I Laid My Burdens Down” does not consider himself immoral and is not seen universally that way even though there are many people who deem him as immoral.

DeShawn does not deem himself as a deviant and he self reflects to see the broader aspects of his personality. He is a black man from the deep south who came from a church tradition that was a creative soul right from his childhood up to the time he moved to Oakland as a teenager.

20th century gay men often come out as compartmentalized and stunted unlike Purnell’s work which has a very different perspective. In writing the novel, Brontez Purnell uses his own experiences in drawing the life of his lead character which makes for a palpable story.

Unlike most contemporary authors, he does not make a conscious effort of writing diverse characters in the novel whether able bodied, gay, fat, black or brown but rather he just tells his story of the experiences of his character.

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