Hit the deck 

You bitch about the evils of gentrification even though you're responsible for it yourself. You consider John Grisham offensive, boast that you have just one Republican friend and say that lists of labels like these suck ass. You, according to Robert Lanham, are a hipster, belonging to a vague and liberal leisure-class he catalogs in The Hipster Handbook (Anchor Books).

The 170-page paperback divides the loosely defined hipster kingdom into 10 subsets, including WASHs, service industry Hipsters known for their cynicism; Neo-Crunches, post-Garcia hippies who prefer Wilco to Phish; and Maxwells, form-fitting gay boys found only in "mixed" bars. Lanham jumps sporadically from discussions of Hipster lingo ("deck" is the preferred term for "cool," while "fin" means the opposite) to descriptions of their eating habits, personal hygiene and grooming tendencies (emo comb-overs are deck, but pencil-thin beards are fin).

While the book's observations on subcultural quirks can be fall-on-your-face funny, its round-up of stereotypes frequently comes off as contrived and already seems dated. Plus, the book suffers from decidedly unhip illustrations, which look like they were cribbed from a cheap medical pamphlet (and not in a good way). Where's Über-hip illustrator Shag when you need him?

Regardless, The Hipster's Handbook makes for a damn fine conversation starter and will doubtlessly find its way onto cool, er, deck coffee tables in WASH apartments across America.

The true baseball lover -- the purist who worships Roger Angell and who owns all nine innings of the Ken Burns documentary -- never tires of reading about the sport. It's for this fan that Rob Trucks wrote Cup of Coffee: The Very Short Careers of Eighteen Major League Pitchers (Smallmouth Press). The concept itself is intriguing, as the author catches up with a handful of old players to see what became of them after leaving the mound. Unfortunately for the non-fan, the title may explain what's required to stay awake through the third or fourth vignette. Rob Trucks reads and signs Cup of Coffee March 6 at 7 p.m. A Cappella Books, 1133 Euclid Ave. 404-681-5128.

Shelf Space is a weekly column on books and Atlanta's literary scene.



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