cover image My Life as a Whale

My Life as a Whale

Dyan Sheldon. Villard Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-40691-4

An unattached, straight 34-year-old man--a rare commodity in '90s Manhattan--is the protagonist of Sheldon's ( Dreams of an Average Man ) entertaining satire. After a widely publicized magazine article warns women that their chances of marrying are slim after age 30, Michael Householder, a literary agent labeled gynophobic by a friend, begins to feel like a member of an endangered species--preyed upon but unprotected. To defend himself, he ``invents'' a wife, even cross-dressing so that neighbors see her entering his apartment. But soon after Michael announces their separation, a psychotic murderer known as the Gourmet Killer (he arranges dismembered body parts as cuisine) leaves a filleted foot in Michael's apartment building. Michael, known to be handy in the kitchen, is arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife. Will he beat the rap? Will he give up his misogynistic ways and find true love? Sheldon's book is less a thriller than a wry and subtle commentary on contemporary mores reminiscent of George Stade's Confessions of a Ladykiller. Like Stade's hero, Michael is a Poe-inspired creation who, protesting his ordinariness and balance, betrays just how out of balance he truly is. A well-crafted, acerbic tale that captures the foibles of the 30-something, post-yuppie generation. Film rights sold to Interscope. (May)