UNPACKING THE MALE MIND: Editing a men’s magazine is, one might think, a pretty good way to learn what makes men tick. But what’s one to do with this valuable knowledge? More to the point, who might be willing to pay $23.95 for it? Why, women, of course. Hence “Men, Love & Sex: The Complete User’s Guide for Women,” by David Zinczenko, editor in chief of Men’s Health. The book — which was very nearly titled “What Women Don’t Know About Men, Love & Sex Could Fill a Book” — won’t be out until September, but WWD got an early look.

Essentially a long research project, “Men, Love & Sex” draws most of its material from a Harris poll of more than 5,000 women and men, who respectively ask and answer questions such as, “Why won’t he open up about his feelings?” and “What’s up with golf?” According to the introduction, “The only way to get us to crack each other’s codes is to delve deep into the psyches of both sexes — and that’s exactly what this book does, for the first time ever, in a most unique and insightful way.” (Not to mention modest.)

“I’m a professional student of men’s hearts and minds, if you will,” Zinczenko writes, by way of articulating his credentials. Although he has never been married, Zinczenko said in a phone interview that he did not consider that a handicap: “I’ve never had a severe concussion, a torn Achilles or avian flu either, but I’m pretty comfortable editing a mag that gives men advice on how to avoid or manage those issues.” Besides, he added, his co-author, Men’s Health contributor Ted Spiker, is married with kids. Asked about the division of labor between authors, Zinczenko said, “We write chapters together, throw ’em back and forth. We kind of divide and conquer.”

In other words, they’re both to blame for the book’s frequent use of not-quite-apt metaphors. Some choice tidbits:

This story first appeared in the June 20, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

  • “A lot of men feel about as secure as a carton of Twinkies in the middle of a Curves studio.”

  • “When we’re trying to get to know you, we’ve got more butterflies than a Costa Rican guidebook.”
  • “Don’t long for a man who will chatter more than a hula dancer in Alaska.”
  • “We know the size of the drill isn’t supposed to matter as much as the battery-pack that powers it.”
  • “Think of a great relationship as though it were a great meal: A delicious, meaty steak of sexual passion, and a fine, delicate wine of romance and commitment.”

It’s only fair to note that the manuscript WWD reviewed was not a final version. It’s also worth noting that Rodale Inc., which is publishing the book and commissioned the poll, is anticipating another huge hit to follow up Zinczenko and Spiker’s last effort, “The Abs Diet.” That had a first printing of 37,000; the initial “Men, Love & Sex” run will be in the six figures. That buys an awful lot of Twinkies.
Jeff Bercovici

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