Picks and Pans Review: Mr. Commitment

updated 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/19/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Mike Gayle

Gayle's second novel, a bestseller in the U.K., mines the same vein as Nick Hornby's High Fidelity and finds just as much comedy gold. This one centers on Benjamin Duffy, a struggling London stand-up comic forced to get serious about longtime girlfriend Mel when she shocks him by: a) switching off his Star Trek rerun; and b) asking him to marry her. Duffy's pub buddies, who seem to be on loan from the cast of Notting Hill, argue that action heroes are always single ("Han Solo, I ask you"), but Duffy gets engaged and is soon hurtling into a color-coordinated abyss. Cue the breakup, the wry soul-searching and the bumping into the new boyfriend. Predictable? So is Christmas. Duffy, sweetly funny as he grows wise beyond his fears, is an inaction hero. (Doubleday, $22.95)

Bottom Line: Gayles of laughter

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