It must have sounded promising in the pitch meeting: Take an attractive, socially active 25-year-old virgin and have her write an intimate book about what it is like to be undefiled. Turns out it's pretty darn dull.
Or at least it is as described by McCarthy, a Catholic, Harvard-educated rock critic who takes us through her vestal adventures with excruciating smugness and a devastating lack of wit. McCarthy introduces a string of hapless boyfriends, each of whom she disqualifies from receiving the "biggest gift." But there were consolation prizes: McCarthy routinely rounded a couple of bases with her baffled dates before drawing a distinction between virginity and purity.
In the end, McCarthy's aversion to "going all the way" seems less a moral matter than the consequence of her hyperanalytical nature. Which is not to say that virginity isn't an admirable choice; it is. But writing a dreary, self-righteous book about it is shameful. (Warner, $22)