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Lust Or No Harm Done

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Genre Prose

Year 2008

Language English

Volume book: Full version

From Publishers Weekly

"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.

"Inventive… a risky, highly imaginative addition to a unique and valuable boody of work." – Kirkus

"Ryman's 'careful-what-you-wish-for' message is artfully packaged in this quirkyy, off-beat, entertaining novel." – Publishers Weekly

***

David, a young scientist investigating what happens to the brain during the process of learning, suddenly finds himself the subject of a bizarre experiment. On the way home from the lab one night he spies Tony, a fitness instructor from his gym, on the same platform waiting for the tube. David's had an obsession with Tony for weeks, but Tony's barely noticed him at all. Until now. When David imagines the man naked, an extraordinary thing happens: Tony strips there and then on the platform and offers himself in front of all onlookers. Horrified, David flees. But back at his flat, Tony reappears, as if by magic. And disappears, when David wishes him away. And reappears when he calls him back. David can conjure up anyone, from any time, and he does: Billie Holliday, Johnny Weismuller, Daffy Duck, Picasso, Sophia Loren, even his younger self. Mad with lust and losing all scientific objectivity, he runs the gamut of his fantasies until, sated and morally bankrupt, he's forced to confront himself. It is not a pretty sight.

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