A thin collection—in content as well as size—of essays from filmmaker, playwright, novelist, and he-man epigone Mamet (The Old Religion, 1996 etc.). In slightly different forms, these essays have appeared in magazines such as Esquire and Men’s Journal. While the pieces span a variety of topics, from the vagaries of movie-making to hunting to favorite items of haberdashery, they are almost all inflected by Mamet’s darkening, sepulchral gloom about turning 50. The saving and damning grace of these essays is that they tend to reveal the true quality of their author’s mind. While Mamet may write some of the sharpest dialogue, you know, sharpest dialogue around, as a thinker he is far too impressed and obsessed with the idea of David Mamet. In his own mind, he shines brave and clever and witty and ironic, but far too often he comes off more as a tinhorn, Hemingway-manquÇ construction of Viagra masculinity. While his own frequent epigrams and aperáus (e.g., “it’s real nice to live in a real nice house”) usually go awry, he does have a pitch-perfect Bartlett’s ability to slip in apt quotations or citations from others. He’s at his best on the timeless savageries and inanities of Hollywood, the mindlessness of producers, the low lot of writers. He merely plods along in his forced metaphysically-aspirant appreciations of beloved objects (scotch, knives, guns, art pottery). And he is at his worst whenever he’s dredging up fragmentary recollections of his youth or trying to play the philosopher.