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Book Review


by John Dicker
If you've read the women's sports pages of The New York Times -- or the Style Section as it's sometimes known -- you've probably encountered the lifestyle reporting of Rick Marin. The Toronto native is a smart, prescient writer, which makes it a shame that he decided to publish a version of his Red Shoe diaries.

Perhaps it's too easy to reproach a memoir for being self-indulgent. But if you haven't lived through events on par with, say, China's cultural revolution, it seems you might want to explain why you think 284 pages of your sex life is worth $24. In all fairness, Marin's man-whore journal is about more than just bagging babes; it's about confronting personal obstacles and growing up in a time of extended adolescence. It's also a showcase for Marin's wit, which often counteracts his agonizing smugness.

Cad chronicles Marin's romantic r & eacute;sum & eacute; from a brief marriage in his twenties to a bittersweet arrival at the killing fields of true love. While working as a freelance writer in New York, Marin runs the gamut of one-night stands, month-long stints and protracted breakups with "sort-of girlfriends" including publicists, medical students, inappropriately aged editorial assistants, even a Los Angeles astrologist. Common themes include his propensity for women whose emotional and cultural sensibilities foster his contempt, condescension and flight. Of course, this does not impede his indulgences in their bedsheets.

Cad sits solidly within the milieu of the male confessional: "I was young, naughty and now contrite," he proclaims. Compared with the similarly themed novels of Nick Hornby, Marin's repentance feels rather disingenuous. Of course, his deadpan irony is often hilarious. Take, for example, a personal ad he considers placing after a long, dry stretch: Moderately insensitive bachelor, 29, seeks vivacious female with highly developed sense of irony. Should have seen at least three Fassbinder films without liking them. No vegans or spiritually inclined respondents, please. Appreciation of P.G. Wodehouse, Pee Wee Herman and lingerie an asset.

However unwittingly, Marin seems to embody the ethos of a frat boy with a Harper's subscription. And yet, despite my better judgement, he almost conscripts me into the gender wars with a few of his stands for the male species. The ending -- a confrontation with the death of a parent -- is honest, and almost profound enough to recompense for the author's inveterate narcissism. Cad is a book to be checked out of the library, read in small doses and promptly returned.

Publication date: 03/20/03

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