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Book Picks by Dara Colwell (DC) and Michael Stabile (MS)

Lapham's  Rules of Influence

'Lapham's Rules of Influence'
By Lewis H. Lapham
Random House, $19.95, 131 pages

As sharp advice shot straight from the hip, Lewis Lapham's Lapham's Rules of Influence is a witty critique of an American obsession: networking. Dubbed by this longtime editor of Harper's magazine the "courtier spirit," our obsession with success has rendered us an obsequious, approval-seeking lot--and something worth mocking for 131 pages. Covering everything from dinner parties to dressing for success, Lapham appropriately attacks the marks of status are one by one. "Fat people," Lapham writes: "Approach them warily. Their weight is proof of their unhappiness and if you spend too much time in their company, they will lead you into debt or psychoanalysis." For a generation of eager wealth seekers and careerists, Lapham's words come as a not-so-gentle reminder that our values have become skewed in favor of acquisition. While Lapham's words are a breath of fresh air, the reader can't help occasionally wondering whether some of his observations are heartfelt and not sarcastic. (DC)

'The Kid'

'The Kid'
By Dan Savage
EP Dutton, $22.95, 240 pages

Subtitled What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story, sex adviser Savage's account of his gay adoption process is every bit as on point, witty and prescient as his nationally syndicated "Savage Love" column. Except, unlike his column, the book made me start crying on the bus. Granted, I was in the middle of switching antidepressants and was a little out of sorts anyway, but his honest account of the adoption process reveals everything from his financial motivations (a book deal) to his desire for a lasting stab at immortality through child rearing. Brutal and fresh, tender and schmaltzy--the book left me obsessed with having a kid of my own for, uh, about a week after reading it. A must for every would-be parent (MS).

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From the October 11, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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