What if you could have sex with anyone in the world?
The ultimate fantasy? Or a nightmare of self-discovery? Michael Blasco, a young scientist investigating what happens to the brain during the process of learning, suddenly finds himself on the other end of experimentation. On the way home from his lab one night he runs into Tony, a fitness instructor from his gym who he harbors a crush for, on the same platform waiting for the subway. When Michael imagines Tony naked, a pleasant fantasy to spice up a dull journey home, an extraordinary thing happens: Tony strips then and there on the platform and offers himself to Michael in front of all onlookers. Horrified, Michael flees. But back at his apartment, Tony reappears, as if by magic. And disappears again, when Michael wishes him away. Being a scientist, Michael recognizes an experiment when he sees one, and sets out to test the parameters of his newfound gift. In quick succession he conjures up Billie Holliday, Johnny Weismuller, Daffy Duck, Picasso, Sophia Loren, even his younger self.
The world is seemingly there for the taking. But what does Michael really desire? Mad with lust and losing all scientific objectivity, he runs the gamut of his fantasies inventing new lovers and calling up old ones, until, sated and morally bankrupt, he's forced to confront himself. What happens to the heart when it gets everything it desires?
From the renowned author of Was and 253 comes a witty, disturbing and intensely erotic fable for the modern age.
"Reality's got a hole in it." That's what runs through Michael Blasco's head when he discovers that he has the uncanny ability to bring his fantasies to life in this wacky, inspired third novel by Ryman (Was). The 38-year-old gay protagonist is a government scientist experimenting on baby chicks and has a flat in London's West End with Phil, his passionless boyfriend. While seething on a subway platform, he imagines the beefy trainer at his gym stripping naked right in front of him and poof it happens! Terrified at first, Michael quickly regains his composure and wills into action a series of characters like Tarzan and cartoon diva Taffy Duck; narcissistically, he also conjures a copy of himself. His reunion with a long-lost high school sweetheart nicknamed Bottles proves to be touching and funny, but his meeting with Mark, a victim of AIDS, turns sad when Mark rebuffs his plea to revive him. In an effort to inject passion into his stagnant relationship, Michael "calls up" a younger version of Phil paired with a younger version of himself. When this scheme backfires, he returns to the anonymous "speedy, functional sex" that has long sustained him. A night out with feisty Billie Holiday, passionate sex with Picasso and dalliances with Lawrence of Arabia on Viagra reinvigorate him and make for some funny, titillating reading, but as Michael's notebook of his wild adventures begins to overflow, the story's whimsical tone changes, revealing more of his true character as well as some particularly troublesome personal problems. Among them is a disturbing boyhood fixation on his father, which mutates into a wincingly unnerving incestuous sequence. Ryman's "careful-what-you-wish-for" message is artfully packaged in this quirky, offbeat, entertaining novel.