EVERYONE NEEDS A fantasy to fend off harsh realities, and if you're an aging male obsessed by thoughts of nubile, instantly available young women, David Gilmour's How Boys See Girls (Random House, 161 pages, $22.50 cloth) could be your ticket to temporary relief. When over-the-hill Bix meets too-gorgeous-for-words Holly, it's wham-bam, thank you ma'am time on Toronto's tame streets; and for its first 50 or so pages, the novel does make up in hard-breathing intensity what it so manifestly tacks in overall credibility.
But then there's the morning after, when wise old males tender their sincere thanks and silently steal away. Not our Bix, however, who despite accelerating evidence of Holly's lack of interest hangs around until well past closure time. The result, of course, is full-caps SUFFERING, expressed in prose that easily out-lathers soap operas in the bathos-and-banality department. A further requirement of the lust-in-the-dust genre is that the object of desire be completely depersonalized, here amply fulfilled by Holly's profound vacuity anyone this clueless would in reality have some difficulty in finding Toronto, let alone functioning in it.
Matters aren't helped by Bix's extraordinary lack of personal appeal. This thoroughly unappetizing human being sports a plethora of off putting attributes, symbolized by the fact that he has seen Dirty Harry six times and enjoyed every second of it. Comedy-wise, you should know that if Bix mutters inanities to himself in an apparently deserted lavatory, there will turn out to be a hidden listener somewhere in the woodwork: bathroom humour with a vengeance, you might say. Still, if How Boys See Girls is an essentially rebarbative read, the book does proffer a nugget of negative knowledge: one anxiety attack tacked onto one wet dream does not a novel make.