GIRL BOY ETC.
Breakups, pickups and the ups and downs of postadolescent single guys form the backbone of Weinreb's sharp, funny debut collection. In "What I Would Tell Her," Seth, a motivational speaker, documents his unrequited love for a gorgeous, enigmatic woman named Rachael: "Rachael is not ready for a relationship. She is never ready. The Alpha Male could climb through her window with a bouquet of posies and she wouldn't be ready.... In the meantime, the men come and go.... They look startlingly alike, as if Rachael plucked them off the sale rack at the Gap." Another boy smitten by Rachael—and friends with Seth—notes in "Satisfaction" that his group of pals "form[s] a chain-link fence of sexual frustration." Weinreb's hormonal narrators tend to be romantics at heart, but they can also turn predatory; in "The Fox Hunters," a guy on the rebound punches out his friend and then tries to bed an unstable older woman, while "Old Men on Spring Break" features hedonistic former college buddies on the prowl. Shock jocks, wannabe screenwriters and fraternity pledge candidates round out the male character list. Weinreb's book is strongest at the start, before it becomes clear that some of his tales lack depth, some of his female characters lack three-dimensionality and some of his male characters sound a lot like each other. But his take on affairs of the heart—half jaundiced, half sentimental—is original and perceptive, and very appropriate for a collection dedicated to dissecting the endless confusions of love and dating. Sly humor and some excellent comic lines mark Weinreb's strength as a humorist; may he widen his scope in his next outing. Agent, Jane Dystel . (May)