Lust

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Inventive ... a risky, highly imaginative addition to a unique and valuable body of work."

-Kirkus

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

- Publishers Weekly

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. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Michael Blasco, an impotent, self-loathing, gay scientist studying how the brain learns, suddenly finds that he is able to summon anyone to whom he is attracted and make that person do whatever he wants. He quickly tries to explore the phenomenon scientifically while taking advantage of the situation to help his impotency. Those whom Michael calls up include Tarzan, a thinly veiled Jessica Rabbit, his ex's new boyfriend, and even himself. Although the novel is full of what are meant to be erotic descriptions, Michael's real issues are about love: sexual love, the love between parent and child, the love of friends, and, most important, self-love. Ryman has been praised for the originality of his past novels, including a dark reworking of The Wizard of Oz (Was) and an e-collection of interlinked stories about subway riders (253), but Lust fails to rise above adolescent obsessions, even when Michael seems to be on the brink of a scientific and philosophical breakthrough. Only for collections of experimental fiction and sf.-Devon Thomas, Hass MS&L, Ann Arbor, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A research biologist explores the parameters of love, sex, and creativity in this inventive, inordinately busy latest from the provocative British author (253, 1998, etc.). Protagonist Michael Blasco, who's doing brain experiments on lab animals, becomes his own most recalcitrant subject when his sexless relationship (due to Michael's impotence) with younger boyfriend Philip is replaced by fantasies-and thence the discovery that Michael can summon and banish at will copies (or "angels") of real and fictional humans. First up is heterosexual gym instructor Tony, whose "angel" form nevertheless cheerfully offers itself to Michael. Piqued by his speculative intuitions that lust may be akin to a cosmic gravitational force, Michael indulges himself further, "calling up" filmdom's Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller (who's utterly innocent of sex), jazz chanteuse Billie Holiday (who soberly declares "in the future, there will be no such thing as swing"), and an egotistical, career-oriented Pablo Picasso. Michael also reconnects with former friends and relations-notably, his ex-Marine American father, with whom the teenaged Michael had spent California summers, and very nearly broached an ultimate taboo. The episodes detailing such encounters vary widely in quality. The Picasso sequence, for example, seems to drag on forever; yet a similar later one, involving a Fagin-like purveyor of gay porn who begs Michael to grant him "the power to make angels" (and thus stock ever more X-rated films), is briskly efficient and mordantly funny. The long dénouement, in which Michael (like Shakespeare's Prospero) effectively "releases" his creations, and reconciles his several biological, intellectual, and intuitiveselves, likewise meanders-though Ryman does bring it all to a moving, satisfying close. Not, therefore, Ryman's best, but a risky, highly imaginative addition to a unique and valuable body of work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312312121
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoff Ryman lives in London, England. Among his award-winning works are Was and Unconquered Countries.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2004

    a truly moving exploration of a mind and heart

    The first Ryman novel I found was 'Was'. 'Lust' is his first novel since then to move me as much as that first one. Through the character of Michael and his ability to materialize any object of his desire, Ryman guides the reader on an extended exploration of the meaning of and the need for love. Michael's progress through the novel shows a real human being deeply and honestly engaged in a search for wholeness.

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