by Cara Gardner

Don't let the trendy word "metrosexual" put you off from Peter Hyman's almost hip life. As he takes pains to explain, it's not his fault that he knows the difference between sage and mint green or "tends toward flat front trousers." Hyman is a straight man with good taste, which makes him a metrosexual according to savvy marketers. Just so you know, I'm biased. I know Hyman. I've sat through his monologues about the process of writing these essays, and I was subjected to the minutiae of the publishing process, which included a massive amount of consternation and vacillation over choosing the font.

But I'm also biased against the whole "metrosexual" thing. The term has become tiresome, irritating and about as clever as those kitschy summer camp logos on Abercrombie T-shirts. Despite the annoying title, Hyman's ability to recount his life experiences as a struggling writer, a failing boyfriend and a vain, detail-obsessed trust-fund materialist, with ease and humor, will keep even the most ADD readers entertained through each essay.

Hyman's essays traverse the by-now clich & eacute;d world of a talented, bright, lonely, uptight young Jewish writer trying to make something of himself in New York City. Hyman writes smoothly, taking the reader from one disastrous episode to the next, including his decision to try a Brazilian bikini wax and even his anti-climactic threesome.

In his most insightful essay, "Law School Dropout," Hyman describes his disillusionment with the slacker movement, which led to his decision to attend law school, his subsequent disillusionment with that and his eventual realization that when it comes to finding a niche in the world, the state of limbo tends to be more permanent than one may think.

With a few exceptions, The Reluctant Metrosexual is mostly a collection of Hyman's dating disasters, his lessons about the opposite sex, all delivered in the voice of a bored but intelligent man who's learned to transcend his failures through insightful quips. By dissecting everything from strangers' intentions to the consumer culture's random ludicrousness, Hyman shares with us his life as a neurotic, uncertain and vain young man who sees clearly through cynical shades that "it's not you, it's me."

Publication date: 09/02/04

Summer Parkways @ South Hill

June 14-20
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