A Tale of Two Men

By

Published March 24, 2011

“The true anarchist,” writes Glenn O’Brien in the opening pages of his new book, How To Be a Man (Rizzoli), “must see good manners are the inevitable substitute for laws.” This guidebook from the GQ advice columnist and former Interview editor—there are sections devoted to being a guest, being a host, wearing a suit, seducing a woman, and buying furniture—is a surprisingly political primer on transcending the current vogue for vulgarity simply by being a gentleman. On the other hand, Gabriel de Boya, the protagonist of The Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), the anticipated debut novel by Peter Mountford, is a true anarchist, but not the kind that O’Brien has in mind. De Boya is a formerly idealistic, struggling journalist who has taken a job in Bolivia in the services of fictional hedge-fund behemoth Calloway Group. There he discovers his aptitude for the not-so-subtle arts of dishonesty and betrayal, eventually becoming what O’Brien, in his chapter on insults, defines as one who would sell out his friends and lovers if it was convenient: a scumbag.