Someone wittier than me once said: nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. I can’t tell you how much I laughed at that line. Probably because I didn’t. And I only mention it here because there is a strong element of nostalgic appeal to P S Haven’s bildungsroman story, The Last Mustang on Earth.
I ought to declare a vested interest here before I go any further. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Haven’s short fiction through a variety of anthologies, and I’ve even invited the author to be a guest blogger on one site. Haven is a respected writer with a lurid imagination and a gift for getting the realism of a situation onto the printed page.
That said, even without the vested interest, I would be praising this novel and urging anyone with an interest in erotica to rush out and treat themselves to this as an early Christmas present.
The ‘80s didn’t end until 1991. At least for me they didn’t.
A lot of my friends would look back and say the decade ended with the release of Nevermind. For others it was the invasion of Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm. For most, it was high school graduation and going away to college.
But for me it wasn’t any particular album or band, no specific cultural event that signaled the end of the era. No, for me, the 1980s ended September 21, 1991. The night I got my first blowjob.
This is how Haven’s story begins, and the rest of the narrative is a leisurely build to that particular climax.
I mentioned nostalgia at the beginning of this review because there is a strongly nostalgic feel to the writing. Haven introduces us to smalltown America through the eyes of a teenager on the verge of maturity. The rites of passage in contemporary western society revolve around sex, cars, sexual fantasy, music, and more sex. We live in a world built on the commercial success of capitalism, where every object and experience can be commodified as an acquirable piece of property. If cars and music can be craved, coveted and acquired, surely the same rules apply to the fulfilment of sexual fantasies?
It’s possible that the sexual fantasy element of this story has the most striking impact.
Anyone who was ever a teenager (and hopefully that’s most of us) will recall the endless days of hormone-fuelled fantasies that made the boundaries of reality blur. Haven recreates these scenes of testosterone-driven desire through the eyes of his narrator, seldom giving the reader a chance to understand when reality ended and when the fantasy began. It’s a bold idea and stays true to the magical period of fading adolescence where the fantasy image of adulthood begins to coalesce into the reality of maturity. What, one day, strikes us as the fodder for outrageous speculation (owning a dream car, affording two CDs in one month, enjoying that venerated blowjob) suddenly becomes a possibility. Haven captures this spirit of burgeoning maturity with style and finesse.
For anyone with fond recollections of growing up in the 80s, this book is a slice of time-travel that reminds the reader of what was once incredibly important in all of our lives. And, for those of us who have yet to grow up in any decade, it provides an exciting, interesting and powerful read.
Nostalgia may no longer be what it used to be. But this title gives us a reminder of how powerful it can be when it’s done properly.