Lonely, single men search for love in the 1980s in this hilarious battle narrative from the war between the sexes.
Ronald Reagan has just been elected president, John Lennon has just been shot and 35-year-old Ray Powell has just been dumped by fickle hippie goddess Lana in a definitive finale to the sexual golden age of the countercultural '70s. Seeking a fresh start, he moves from the college-town Shangri-la of Crystal City to nearby Toledo, Ohio, to teach high school and find another woman. Alas, Ray, who prides himself on his male feminism, is at sea in a new sexual ethos that values assertiveness and earning power over sensitivity. He finds nothing but cynicism and tawdry hookups in the circle of hell that is the Toledo singles' scene, and the few women he connects with–such as Judy, a 17-year-old student with whom he strikes up an awkward romance–prove resoundingly inappropriate. Tragically, he gets plenty of advice from his bachelor buddies: Scott, an eternal student with a yen for tall, domineering women; Frank, a newly celibate ladies' man who now considers sex a "holocaust"; and the permanently lovelorn Bert, whose idea of a smooth come-on is to surprise his inamorata by removing his clothes and draping a towel over his face. When all else fails, the Zen bromides he gleans from Kung Fu reruns–"Male and female are like coal and flame"–guide his steps. Durstin writes in a wonderfully observant prose that's sardonic and sympathetic, with a perfect ear for the cultural obsessions of the early Reagan era. He frames Ray's story as a mythic "journey" that affords the author a sly parody of the Men’s Movement. As they respond to a chaos of mixed messages in a profoundly confused age, his characters' delusions–and their fumbling, convoluted pickup maneuvers–are as poignant as they are uproarious.
A wickedly funny send-up of the sexual revolution and its discontents.