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“The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice” by Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro (Ten Speed Press) Manly young lawyers — your attention, please: Phineas Mollod of New York, co-author of a brightly written and briskly selling new book, aims to pique your suaver impulses with “The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice.” This is not your father’s dull primer on the responsibilities of manhood. Nor is it a hackneyed guy-guide, or a menu of delights for the mere flâneur, or a gray-flannel how-to manual for Corporate Everyman. (Certainly not with Chapters 7-9, the so-called “naughty nucleus” with its counsel on “leisure and dalliance, from alcohol and snuff to recreational botanicals and sex,” as described by Mollod and his partner in cultivation, Jason Tesauro, who nearly became an attorney himself.) What “Modern Gentleman” does is rescue today’s generation of young men from the shadow of yesterday’s confusing adjustments with the rightful rise of feminism, perhaps best described by the satirist Mort Sahl: “I’m proud to say I’m ashamed to be a man.” Mollod and Tesauro, on the other hand, are delighted by their winnings in the toss of the chromosomal dice, so to speak. And with their book, clearly dedicated to refining the play. “Lawyers are among the higher class of professionals, and with that comes the responsibility to polish ourselves,” said Mollod, 31, a graduate of Vanderbilt University Law School and a part-time litigation associate with the small Manhattan firm McGrath & Marsh. “We have access and resources that enable us to experience the great things of life.” Such as black-tie events. Mollod is hip to why the pleats of a cummerbund point upward. “To hold your opera tickets,” he explained, “or to catch the crumbs from your chicken Kiev at a really bad banquet.” The book’s editor, Aaron Wehner of Berkeley-based Ten Speed Press, said he knew almost at once that he would publish the book. What was at first simply one more lump on his office scan pile became a manuscript he took home, for whatever reason intrigues editors, and there went his evening. “It’s a code for living,” Wehner enthused. “Riotous in parts and erudite — an impressive job of being serious while keeping the tongue firmly in cheek.” Wehner is further pleased to have sent the book back to press for a second printing since last October — and now a fresh new third printing. Here’s a sampling: • “A gentleman’s living quarters bespeak a well-landscaped personality … The archetypical bachelor, with only an old can of Schaefer, a half-empty bottle of relish, and an onion in the crisper, has fallen out of vogue. A modicum of food in the fridge, art on the walls, and flourishing flora affirm vitality.” • “Despite the surge in electronic mail and cordless everything, there is nothing more intimate than a smudged pen-and-ink shot of love.” • “Shoeshines are for gentlemen what weekly manicures are to ladies.” • “A well-rounded gentleman possesses a mature vocabulary … Use profanity judiciously; four-letter words are not the only clever way to raise eyebrows. There’s a high degree of cliché among cursers.” • “For the Modern Gentleman’s home, we suggest some ground rules and required [classical] recordings. Be discerning and avoid compact discs that are thematic anthologies issued and sold at home décor stores or coffeehouse counters … When in doubt, consult the Penguin guide.” • “Rather than frequenting megastores with trendy upstairs cafés, linger in independent bookshops that favor overstuffed shelves and a lazy cat asnooze in the biographies … Allow the creamy goodness of a sublime read to soak in.” • “Workday fast food promotes daytime productivity akin to a socialist state.” Just how and why did Mollod and Tesauro — a couple of guys from north New Jersey, college buddies at Drew University who went their separate ways — arrive at their mission of separating ruffians, cads and boors from right gents? “Back when one of the firms I was working for let go of its associates, I’d been working on writing,” said Mollod, a bachelor. “I figured, now’s the time to really try this out. Writing was never a lifelong dream or something like that.” The reverse was true of Tesauro, also 31, married and a resident of Richmond, where he works as a performance poet and marketing director for a commercial vineyard, explaining the book’s numerous oenophile qualities. “Well, I took the LSAT and I was all ready to go,” said Tesauro. “But then I pulled up tent stakes at the last minute, which was wise ultimately. Certainly for the cause of our book. With Phineas being a Manhattan attorney and my being a southern poet, it’s provided us good ballast. “If it wasn’t for Phineas, there would have been lots more run-on sentences,” Tesauro said of the collaboration. “I made sure his sentences were properly dressed.” Mollod credits the plodding methodology of his law school training for assuring that the book was properly shepherded. He first found a literary agent of decent repute who, in turn, enticed the likes of Wehner — a 30-year-old professional for whom “The Modern Gentleman” is precisely targeted. “You have to write a proposal, you have to research ‘Writer’s Market’ and other industry publications, you have to write a query letter to get an agent, you have to send out a few chapters to give them a taste,” said Mollod. “It’s a lot of document work. It’s like filing an appeal. I kept my query tight and persuasive — and I advocated.” Along the way came a discovery. “People who get a law degree and think you should only practice law are mistaken,” Mollod said. If the new-found writing dodge should fail, he added, “I’m trained, there will always be litigation opportunities.” Not to mention a sequel. The gentlemen are busy crafting “The Modern Husband”, which Wehner is eager to add to Ten Speed’s publishing list. According to Ten Speed, “Faced with the quandary of nothing [more] to write, Phineas and Jason drew straws and Jason had to marry first — not only for his beloved, but for the inherent research value and shiny fondue pot.”

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