By Gilbert Cruz
Updated August 10, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

We’ve all read reports of the ever-lengthening span of emotional adolescence, as people in their mid-20s still find themselves adrift. In this amusing collection of essays, How To Be a Man, subtitled ”Scenes From a Protracted Boyhood,” Thomas Beller emerges as a particularly egregious victim of this phenomenon (the last entry takes place when he is 39). Originally written for various magazines, the pieces have a slight ”Talk of the Town” feel; in fact, most are set in New York City. From working as a stock boy at H&H Bagels to losing his behemoth car on the edge of Manhattan to suffering a depressing strip club excursion, Beller charts his growth from Peter Pan lite to married adult. And while the collection as a whole teeters on the edge of preciousness, it proves to be an enjoyably mature read.

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