THE BASTARD ON THE COUCH: 27 Men Try Really Hard to Explain Their Feelings About Love, Loss, Fatherhood, and Freedom

Daniel Jones, Author , foreword by Cathi Hanauer. Morrow $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-056534-3

Last year's much-ballyhooed The Bitch in the House , edited by Hanauer, collated essays by women on their frustration and rage. Now Jones (Hanauer's husband and a novelist and journalist) offers the male version, wherein guys discuss how they feel about their standing in today's shifting cultural landscape (that is, if they care at all). As Jones notes, "The fact that women are in charge of their own birth control and reproduction may be a gigantic cultural shift, but I've yet to hear a single man complain about it." Divided into sections on "Hunting and Gathering," "Can't Be Trusted With Simple Tasks," "Bicycles for Fish" and "All I Need," the essays vary from somewhat revelatory to unsurprising, but they are almost uniformly entertaining and well written. There are several pieces in the vein of Christopher Russell's droll snippet about being bossed around by his Type A wife. Despite her "officious way," deep down, Russell knows her fussiness is often necessary. Some are more visceral, like Robert Skates's display of his jaded humor about the pain of divorce ("Punching doors seems to help. Throwing phones through windows ain't bad either"), or Jarhead author Anthony Swofford's wry tale of beating up a guy at a bar who was molesting Swofford's passed-out girlfriend. While precious few entries stray from the rested maunderings of educated professionals—there's no real scoop on what guys on the assembly line think—the book still manages to open a window into a place many women are pretty convinced doesn't exist: the male psyche. Agent, Amanda Urban. (June 1)

Forecast: While men may not buy this book, women may pick it up in hopes of learning what goes on inside their husbands' heads. Essays from the book will be excerpted in GQ, Elle, Glamour, Real Simple, Redbook, Parenting and the Washington Post Magazine.

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-073163-2
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