Merrill Markoe's Guide to Love

Merrill Markoe, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $21 (288p) ISBN 978-0-87113-663-3

Partly a spoof on guides to romantic relationships, Markoe's look at love and sex in the 1990s is often tiresome, sometimes wickedly funny and occasionally hilarious. Roughly one-third of the 21 selections appeared in New Woman. Writing with a keen sense of the ridiculous honed by her own checkered love life, Markoe, a columnist for Buzz and New Woman, offers witty takes on marriage, flirtation and screwed-up relationships. She exposes the inanity of much self-help advice as she reports on seminars and weekend retreats she's attended in the Los Angeles area on the art of seduction, the fine points of oral sex, finding one's soul mate and how to appeal to the opposite sex. She distills tongue-in-cheek lessons from Hollywood romantic movies and brings sharp feminist humor to her discussion of dating rituals and men's fixation with scoring and with body parts. But much of her counsel reads like a stand-up comic's scattershot monologue. (Feb.)