Title: "Tell Me Another One: A Woman's Guide to Men's Classic Lines"
Author: Judith Newman; illustrated by Victoria Roberts
Length, price: 103 pages, $7.99 (paperback) So Prince Charming is busy filming another Disney movie, and you have to brave the real world for Valentine's Day? Before you run out to the nearest bar, this little book of men's pick-up lines and observations, some of them hysterically awful, isn't a bad primer in romantic disillusionment.
Judith Newman pays homage to the classics -- obvious quotes from Shakespeare and Andrew Marvell, for instance, and steamy movie lines -- but the really funny stuff is what she's collected from friends or has heard herself. "I can see you will bear many children easily," is one great line, which the author heard from "an Indian man on our first date. It was meant as a compliment."
Another line, one a financial adviser swears by: "Do you have a tax-sheltered annuity?" Then there's the guy in a toupee who approached the author at a party to say, "I only date gorgeous women."
There aren't enough of these "real" lines, but this slight volume is still amusing, and nicely set off by Victoria Roberts' New Yorker-esque cartoons. Wry comments follow each quotation.
"The highest level of sexual excitement is in a monogamous relationship." Ms. Newman's response: "This would be particularly lovely if the person who originally said it weren't Warren Beatty."
The New York Police Department is in a crisis. Due to a leak at the NYPD, three undercover officers have been murdered, and a new and deadly strain of heroin known as Cleopatra Gold is flooding the streets. In desperation, the department turns to Alejandro Monahan, a half-Irish, half Tarascan Mexican nightclub singer.
He is an undercover operative planted years before to learn about the drug network and find the leak. Using his connections, Alejandro works his way into the network, tracing flow of the drug from Central America into the city. He is acutely aware that not only is he surrounded by dopers, but also that someone at the NYPD is a traitor.
"Cleopatra Gold" is the fifth novel by William J. Caunitz, a former New York police officer, detailing the workings of the NYPD. While his characters are larger than life and the plots can get unwieldy, Mr. Caunitz certainly knows the NYPD and New York.
In "Gold," the story zooms along at a breathless pace, the body count is high, and there is enough electronic technology to choke the Holland Tunnel. While "Cleopatra Gold" may not be for the ages, it is certainly an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
Title: "The Man From Japan"
Author: Clive James
Publisher: Random House
Length, price: 173 pages, $19
Humorous novels, even the most effective ones, will generally cause people to read a passage and say to themselves, "Ha-ha. That's funny." Perhaps they'll give a little smile. However, "The Man From Japan," by English writer and television personality Clive James, is the rare kind of book, that, instead of a polite grin, inspires loud raucous laughter. Whole paragraphs can be read twice just for the pleasure of laughing again.
Akira Suzuki is an ambitious but traditional Japanese man living in London. Jane Austen is an overweight punk rocker and drug addict whose only dependable quality is that she will behave with stunning inappropriateness in every possible situation. When this unlikely couple get together the result is hilarious. Japanese, Westerners, media, yuppies, sex and language all get skewered with equal amounts of intelligence and wit.
Miraculously, none of this is mean-spirited, even when James pokes fun at the character of Jane Austen, an obviously tragic, disturbed person.