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. Ryman's "careful-what-you-wish-for" message is artfully packaged in this quirky, offbeat, entertaining novel.