Picks and Pans Review: The Best a Man Can Get

updated 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/25/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by John O'Farrell

Beach book of the week

This is it, a Bridget Jones for guys, except that the 60 lbs. of unsexy fat this lovably flawed, fictional London hero wants to lose are his two kids. Oh, Michael loves his damp-diapered darlings. He just needs some time away from them and his harried wife once in a while—say, several days each week. During his sabbaticals he dashes off jingles for TV commercials and catches up on his sleep and soccer trivia in a grungy secret flat with three other minimally employed boy-men. His exhausted wife thinks he's slaving when he's snoring. "I felt," says our hero heel, "like a man having an affair, only it wasn't an affair with a younger woman, it was an affair with a younger version of myself."

O'Farrell, a joke writer for British prime minister Tony Blair, knows that boys will be boys—and men will be boys too—for as long as they can get away with it. Waiting for Michael to get caught makes this an exercise in suspense (never fear: he is appropriately punished) as well as laughs; but unlike sitcoms, with their often lame sits, every achingly funny gag here rings achingly true. (Broadway, $19.95)

Bottom Line: The best look into a man's mind short of a CAT scan

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