[lads] The image most college students have when they look out their dorm window into the abyss of the future is probably relatively the same: corporate business suits, deadlines, nine to five work schedules, maybe even some dreadful cubicles. Young novelist Dave Itzkoff brings to life the underbelly of the magazine world, as well as the working world, to readers in his first book, “Lads: A Memoir of Manhood.”
Beginning the book the day he graduates from Princeton, both a curse and a prize as he continually mentions throughout the book, Itzkoff takes readers through the first jobs he has in “the real world.” After quitting his first job in a matter of weeks, Itzkoff jumps into the world of magazines. After a stint at Details, he joins Maxim, a British men’s magazine that’s just beginning to make its first waves on the U.S. shore. At Maxim, Itzkoff becomes fully submerged in its brotherly atmosphere, while spending all of his working time, and even vacations, with the Maxim “lads”. Over time, however, Itzkoff slowly learns how little he can trust and rely on these lads when he realizes that it’s a game of “every half-assed man for his own stultified self.”
[halfass] Itzkoff tells his tale with a voice that resonates throughout his memoir with honesty, sounding similar to any college student’s, though maybe a bit more glam. He openly discusses his father’s cocaine addiction, how his father’s late night ramblings terrified him at eight and at 28 still made him fearful of his own boss. Itzkoff’s openness is endearing, especially when he does not construct himself to be anything other than a short, thin, Jewish boy from New Jersey.
The candid memoir often veers off from writing an autobiography to a journal, retelling his many drug escapades and his non-stop masturbation. For a boy who had witnessed his father’s drug-induced revelations and near-death experiences, Itzkoff even surprises himself with his casual tokes of pot, trials with Ecstasy, and snorting his father’s drug of choice.
In all of these experiences, he never fails to sound like the little boy he embodies. Boasting that he can pleasure himself by viewing almost anything, Itzkoff remains unsurprisingly single throughout the course of the book. While recalling arguments with co-workers, editors, or even his parents, he often becomes hopelessly side tracked with rants that brag about how he is better than someone else, whine to explain why he should get the girl, complain about the length of his parents telephone call and generally end with him wanting to tell someone, in other chosen words, to go fly a kite. It’s no wonder, when reading the memoir, that his co-workers dubbed him “Bitchkoff.”
Despite Itzkoff’s whiny voice “Lads” has been viewed as a satirical tale, with Itzkoff being one of the “few things of lasting value that [has] come out of Maxim’s success so far,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. “Lads”, however it loops between story-telling and journal-writing, is honest, describing, as David Carr wrote in The New York Times, the life of “a hapless schlub in romantic affairs, a charlatan in professional matters and a loser in the game of life”.
“Lads” was released on September 7, 2004 and is available in hardcover.

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