By Clarissa Cruz
Updated August 04, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Imagine a slick, drug-free Less Than Zero for the relatively buttoned-down ’90s set: A sophisticated tale that winningly combines old-school, tragicomedy-of-manners technique with contemporary detail, Caitlin Macy’s The Fundamentals of Play is a witty chronicle of affluent postcollege Ivy Leaguers in early-’90s Manhattan. The story revolves around George, whose scholarship gains him entree into his classmates’ privileged world; the aloof, old-money Kate, whom women despise but men inevitably fall for; and the awkward, soon-to-be-Internet-millionaire Harry. Though the denouement is decidedly soap operatic, the narrative is crammed with smart-ass observations (”It was one of those pseudo-fifties diners that advertise a free mimosa or Bloody Mary with your $12.99 eggs, as if life weren’t tragic enough”). We can already see Gwyneth and Matt clamoring to be in the film adaptation. B+