Dispatches from an Almost Hip Life
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Winsome, amusing, and intelligent debut collection of essays by a slacker cursed with taste, mildly astounded that a Queer Eye–influenced world has caught up with him.

Journalist and occasional stand-up comic Hyman reflects on how one’s lifestyle choices or aesthetic preferences can result in greater challenges or disappointments—in his case, the incongruity of loving the finer things and yearning for high society while failing to escape the impoverished and lonely life of a New York writer. Of his purported “metrosexual” tendencies, he notes that “a straight man cannot exhibit good taste in design or home furnishings, or the competence to dress himself” without being frequently mistaken for gay. (He shrewdly tags the mainstream fixation upon so-called metrosexuals as a marketing ploy akin to the Gen-X craze of the early 1990s.) Hapless but well appointed, Hyman portrays with the right mix of self-deprecation and acute observation his adventures in incompetence: a failed ménage à trois, a disastrous drug-fueled Oaxacan road trip, Internet liaisons with women prone to first-date vomiting. Other essays utilize fairly ordinary set-ups as a springboard for Hyman’s self-portrait as a confused yet resolute Everyman. “Law School Dropout” depicts his flight from a “mecca for conformity [that] offers vocational training more than it does intellectual challenge.” In “The Seven Habits of Highly Laid-off People,” he takes an archly humorous look at the white-collar chaos fomented by the 2001 recession. Hyman writes with surprising tenderness about the vicissitudes of contemporary dating, as in “The Wedding Swinger” or “The Penultimate Girlfriend,” with whom his moment flamed out too quickly. And he doesn’t neglect topics specific to the true metrosexual experience, such as high-end shirts and Brazilian bikini waxes. His work may appeal to fans of David Sedaris, but Hyman has more in common with such Manhattan chroniclers of the louche life as Jonathan Ames and Thomas Beller.

Though not without the occasional easy joke or sappy tangent, more thoughtful and artfully written than its sell-by-today title implies.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 2004
ISBN: 0-8129-7163-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2004


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by Richard E. Ocejo