I'm wondering what I would think of it if I were to re-read it now. Maybe I would see a lot of insightful commentary about how our society has warped our perceptions of sex, and how men and women want different things from sex, and how men are more prone to accept the artificial view of sex that the porn business wants to sell them, and all that kind of thing. Or maybe I'd still think it was a pretty boring novel with a couple of memorably nasty sex scenes. Since it appears that no one else on GR has even read it, I'm inclined to believe that the second hypothesis is more likely.
Well... I saw that AbeBooks had Mr Platt's masterpiece for a mere $1.00, and my curiosity got the better of me. It should be in the mail, and I'll post an update in due course!
I finished it on the plane, and I was rather embarrassed to see how little of it I'd remembered. The first sex scene occurs early in the book, and I guess I just read the rest of it looking for more sex and not really bothering much about the story. In my defense, I was 14.
It's dedicated to J.G. Ballard, and it's obvious that the author has a great admiration for him. Unfortunately, Ballard's style is difficult to imitate. Perhaps you need to have survived a Japanese POW camp to be able to pull it off successfully, and, at any rate, Platt doesn't. The basic scenario is similar to the one in The Children of Men. Women have stopped having children, though here you're given more of a clue as to why that may be; it's strongly implied that men have somehow become weak and insufficient. You get the impression that Platt was also a D.H. Lawrence fan, and there are a couple of rugged D.H. Lawrence-style types who get to show two lucky women what they've been missing.
It isn't really a very sexy book, although I see from the author's Wikipedia entry that he wrote genuine erotic novels as well. As a 51 year old, I'm disappointed with the flat characterization. You never get to find out very much about the people. I would in particular have liked to see more of Cathy, the girl in the two scenes I remembered from my first reading. Now, she seemed like an interesting person. I found myself wondering if she was based on one of the author's ex-girlfriends; I speculated that she left him, and he wrote the novel partly to explore his feelings of loss, rejection and insufficiency, and partly to show her that he was deeper than she'd thought. If so, I don't think she was impressed. I can see her leafing through it, and feeling even more certain that she'd made the right decision. Sorry, Charles.
eBook The City Dwellers