Jafar's Reviews > The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists

The Game by Neil Strauss
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's review
Apr 02, 2007

liked it

This was an easy and mindless train/tube read, but I had to keep the book flat on my lap to hide the title after I saw a few women rolling their eyes. Since I've moved to London I've noticed that I'm not the only one who likes to take a sneak peek at what others are reading and then give them a meaningful look.

So, here’s Neil Strauss’s story as he claims. He had written books and articles about rock stars and porn stars. He had access to a lot of backstage parties and glamorous Hollywood galas, but he wasn’t getting any. He was just another AFC – average frustrated chump. (There are a lot of acronyms and pick-up lingo in this book. There’s a glossary for you at the end to refer to.) He signs up for various pick-up workshops and meets every PAU (pick-up artist). This not only immensely improves his situation with women, it propels him to the top of the pick-up society. You read about all these different pick-up schools, each with an egomaniac at the top, that operate like cults and compete for business and clients and demand loyalty.

The book is about the story of his involvement and then disillusionment with the pick-up community. It’s not a manual on to how to pick up women, even through there are lots of advice and sample field reports scattered throughout the book. Some of the advice is just the common sense things that you know it yourself and hear from everyone. Their more specialized techniques go something like this: In order to get women to stay with you and like you during the crucial first few minutes, approach them with a "peacocked" appearance and some eye-catching gadgets, games, and stories. Once past the initial phase, start applying an assortment of manipulative psychological mind games. They claim a lot of success with their techniques (not very credible, but easier to believe when they do their field tests on Sunset Strip). I found most of the repertoire of their opening lines and stories not just corny, but so asinine that if they work on any sizeable portion of the female population, I’ll be dipped, fried, and hot-damned (expression borrowed from David Foster Wallace). The part about the manipulative psychological mind games, however, is interesting (and useful).

Strauss is honest about the emptiness and loneliness that eventually come with this lifestyle. They're a bunch of closet nerds looking for self-validation, but they overdo it. Dehumanizing the opposite sex eventually turns into self-dehumanization. They start with the feeling that they’re the alpha males, but soon they realize that “sarging” is for losers. A real alpha male doesn’t run around after women, acting like a clown and reciting memorized routines. So they set out to do something big. They rent a mansion in Hollywood and start “Project Hollywood” to expand their business and become rich and famous. Herds of gullible students come and go. Women come and go too. Egos clash. Everything falls apart. Eventually, Strauss is broken down by a woman who beats him in his own game.

The story, even if true in its entirety, is not that entertaining. The writing is mediocre at best. Lots of dumb and irrelevant drivel about Tome Cruise and Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears and Courtney Love, just to self-aggrandize and blow this book to 500 pages.
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