Dave Barry is the most consistently funny, deceptively playful satirist this side of Twain and Thurber. This laugh-out-loud book (an original, not a column collection) is typical. While its subject—an analysis of what separates the men from the guys—is on the flippant side, Barry also skillfully lampoons macho excess, the remote-control culture and feminist overreaction thereto.
Barry also displays his remarkable ability to explore every corner of a promising comic idea and exploit it, even with his throwaway lines. In discussing the Greek and Roman contribution to the historical cavalcade of guys, for instance, Barry observes old guys' behavior at sporting events: "In addition to 'Boo,' ancient Greek guys developed a number of phrases for fans to yell, expressing both criticism ('You suck!') and encouragement ('You suck!'). Within a few centuries, ancient Roman guys were developing advanced fan phraseology that could be used at a wide range of sporting events. ('Hey, Lion! You call that mauling a Christian? My grandmother could maul a Christian better than that!')."
While Barry admits to being a hardcore guy, he has kept his critical perspective: "To understand guys, it is essential to remember that, deep down inside, they are biological creatures, like jellyfish or trees, only less likely to clean the bathroom."
If Barry doesn't get into New Age, Politically Correct Sensitive Guy behavior, so much the better: "One of the major characteristics of guyhood is that we guys don't spend a lot of time pondering our innermost feelings. There is a serious question in mind about whether guys actually have deep innermost feeling, unless you count, for example, loyalty to the Detroit Tigers or fear of bridal showers." (Random House, $21)