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<DIV><P>"It takes a particular kind of man," writes Howard Jacobson, "to want an embroidered polo player astride his left nipple. Occasionally, when I am tired and emotional, or consumed with self-dislike, I try to imagine myself as someone else, a wearer of Yarmouth shirts and fleecy sweats, of windbreakers and rugged Tyler shorts, of baseball caps with polo players where the section of the brain that concerns itself with aesthetics is supposed to be. Good men return from fighting Satan in the wilderness the stronger for their struggle, and so do I."</P><P>Jacobson brims with life in this collection of his most acclaimed columns from the<I> Independent</I>. From the unusual disposal of his father-in-law's ashes and the cultural wasteland of <I>Chitty Chitty Bang Bang</I> to the melancholy sensuality of Leonard Cohen and the desolation of Wagner's tragedies, Jacobson writes with all the thunder and joy of a man possessed. Absurdity piles upon absurdity, and glorious sentences accrete to create a uniquely human collection, at times hilarious, at others heartbreaking, and always irresistibly entertaining.</P></DIV>