Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Surprisingly, this is not about the Duke-Kentucky basketball game in 1992.
I completed what might be the new Bible for single men, The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss. Literally. It has gilded-edged pages, a red ribbon to mark one's place, and a soft leather-bound cover. It bears mentioning that the author is a rock journalist who co-wrote the memoirs of Marilyn Manson, Dave Navarro, and Jenna Jameson. Yeah, this is exactly the kind of book genre I don't normally read.
But I'm glad I did. This is easily the most entertaining book I've read this year. It's like Revenge of the Nerds for the 21st century: guys who used to never get the girls immerse themselves in the underground chatroom world of pick-up advice gurus and end up subverting the Los Angeles dating scene. In a self-serving bit of investigative journalism, the author becomes one of these people, undergoing makeovers in appearance and attitude. Structurally, the book plays out a little bit like Fight Club, where each new agenda is bolder and more anarchic than the previous one, and the coexistence of all that testosterone and egomania cannot survive.
The author, nicknamed Style, becomes a right-hand man of sorts to a psychologically broken attention-getter named Mystery, whose wealth of pick-up knowledge makes them gods to those who are dating-impaired. The book follows them to their in-the-field seminars all over the world, and the success translates well wherever they go. Then, when they create the ultimate bachelor mansion in Hollywood, everything slowly goes to hell, if "hell" can be described as competing businesses under one roof, infighting over the same girl, and an extended stay by Courtney Love.
Unlike the players in this book, I don't consider some anorexic, stringy-haired blonde as any sort of ideal. And, on a personal note, I regarded this book as more of a cautionary tale than a field guide. But that doesn't mean that I didn't learn something.