November 29, 1993 12:00 PM

by Garrison Keillor

What with openness, sensitivity and baking pies, guyhood isn’t what it used to be in this spoof on the state of male-female relations.

Sometimes silly, sometimes hilarious, this collection of gender-bending tales will appeal to a wide audience. There’s cowpoke Lonesome Shorty, who notes that “riding a horse, you never get the cardiovascular exercise you need,” and “you miss curtains so much on the trail”; and Chuck, a talk show host behind in the ratings because “here in the Twin Cities it’s hard to find that many freaks…when was the last time a band of Lutherans holed up in a compound with automatic weapons?”

You’ll encounter Dionysus in a midlife crisis, stocking up on extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil for an orgy; a teenager named Buddy, who notes, “It was strange, of course, to live in such a nice clean house as ours and be a leper”; and George Bush out fishing with Willie Horton as barbarians invade Chicago.

Not so funny is Herb Johnson, former football star and now 1,800-pound professional fat man. But then there’s the catalog father, “youthful and tanned and taut and extremely fit. In fact, he appeared to be several years younger than either of his children.” Chuckles, groans, giggles, guffaws or smiles, take your pick. The Book of Guys has ’em all. (Viking, $22)

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