Let Me Count The Times by Martin Amis, 1981
The magic trick:
No filter on the sexual topics this story is willing to address
This is a troubling little peek behind the curtains of the male sexual psyche. Not troubling because the material is explicit or dark. It’s troubling – and painfully dated, I hope – because the tone is one of almost playing the material for laughs. Oh the silly, silly man lost in his sexual delusions. Violent sex fantasies? Well, yeah, I mean, who doesn’t?
It’s weird and more than a little off-putting.
What we will concede here, though, is that it isn’t a story that holds back. It seems to revel in its willingness to go “there.” As such, it certainly is memorable. And that’s quite a trick on Amis’s part.
Even Vernon’s dreams were monogamous: the women who strode those slipped but essentially quotidian landscapes were mere icons of the self-sufficient female kingdom, nurses, nuns, bus-conductresses, parking wardens, policewomen. Only every now and then, once a week, say, or less, or not calculably, he saw things that made him suspect that life might have room for more inside – a luminous ribbon dappling the undercurve of a bridge, certain cloudscapes, intent figures hurrying through changing light.
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