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A Very Lonely Planet: Love, Sex, and the Single Guy

by Ryan Bigge

Not having been a single guy for over a dozen years, I read Ryan Bigge’s A Very Lonely Planet with considerable interest. By the time I was finished, I was almost overcome with a desire to buy my wife flowers, not only because I’m a great husband, but as a bit of an insurance policy to avoid ever having to inhabit the world evoked in this book’s pages.
Bigge, a Vancouver writer and former publisher of Single Guy Zine, writes convincingly and knowingly of life as an unattached male at the dawn of a new century. With its choice of covers, its alternately annoying and helpful text bubbles (footnotes meet Pop-Up Video), and its casual, interpersonal tone, A Very Lonely Planet wears its ’zine pedigree proudly.
Bigge is an ingratiatingly self-effacing writer – “I urge you to ignore much of what I have to say,” he writes in the introduction – and much of the book’s humour comes at his own expense. His accounts of a transcontinental, week-long blind date (how, one is prompted to ask, could flying to New York City and planning to stay with a woman you’re interested in but have never actually met, have ended well?) and his appearance on Cooking for Love are handled with a keen awareness of each situation’s ridiculousness.
It is when Bigge stretches out from the frankly autobiographical that A Very Lonely Planet seems to lose its way. His history of manhood in the last half of the 20th century and his analysis of the different types of single guys, while occasionally amusing, are hardly cutting social commentary. For every off-kilter insight, such as his analysis of what he calls Sad Bastard music or his creation of the Astute Brute male archetype, there is at least one soft-hitting comment that, frankly, seems beneath the talent in evidence elsewhere. A Very Lonely Planet is at times funny, witty, and clever. However, readers may have to search for its charms.