My Hundred Lovers, by Susan Johnson

Half a century has passed since I entered the world through that now-perished body.
A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long.
I find myself gripped by an urge to tidy up, to sort through my body’s memories, a curator arranging artifacts in a museum. I have lived my way into a time in which my body has its own archaeology.
I am in a fever to outrun myself, to be first to reach the ribbon, before my body forgets what it means to run.

With an evocative, even provocative, title like My Hundred Lovers, it is hard not to come to a book with some preconceptions. But, whilst sex is definitely a part of this offering, this much more. Tracing one woman’s story so far (she is about to turn 50), the book offers one hundred vignettes, each representing one of her ‘lovers’, drawn  from every stage of her life.

The lovers are as varied as they are numerous – from buttery croissants, to pets, to human lovers. Sometimes we meet the lover in a tale spanning several pages, but others cover just a couple of lines. Each could be read alone, but together they tell a story of the narrator’s life and particularly of her sensual journey from conception through childhood and youth, into adulthood and reaching her middle years. Whilst not always chronological, the arrangement of the individual parts builds beautifully to show both where the protagonist has been and where she is now.

The novelty of the form, the beauty of the writing and the range of experiences – from the mundane to the exotic – combine to create a satisfying whole.

My Hundred Lovers

My Hundred Lovers, by Susan Johnson
Allen & Unwin 2012
ISBN 9781741756357

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