With school starting up, students nationwide will be stocking up on Cliff Notes, those handy little guides that have allowed millions to bluff their way through literature classes.
Now, thanks to Centennial Press -- an offshoot of Cliff Notes -- students and everybody else can bluff their way through life.
While they aren't exactly on the bestseller list, they seem to appeal to impulse buyers, says David Boice, manager of the Encore Books in downtown Baltimore of these pocketsized guides written by various authors. "Usually our customers will buy them as gag gifts for friends or co-workers," explains Mr. Boice. He figures 15 of the guides have been sold in the last two months.
Pick a subject, any subject. Computers? The great outdoors? Home maintenance? There's a Bluffer's Guide for every occasion.
" 'Bluff Your Way in Sex' is definitely the most popular," says Mr. Boice.
That's right -- everybody's a bluffer in the bedroom, according to Don and Eve Steel, co-authors of "Bluff your Way in Sex."
For those who simply must impress everyone with their sexual sophistication, the Steels provide some historical tidbits. (Bet you didn't know that Lord Cornbury, governor of New York and New Jersey in the early 1700s, was a transvestite, did you?) They also offer a "sexual I.Q. test" and synopses of the sexiest films and books of all time.
And they do it with an irreverence and wit that characterize all the Bluffer's Guides.
Other hot bluffing guides include "Bluff Your Way in Management" and "Bluff Your Way in Golf."
"A friend of mine just started playing golf," explains Encore cashier Tony Frederick, "so for a joke I gave him 'Bluff Your Way in Golf.' In the book's introduction, authors Alan Fulmer and Peter Gammond claim that after reading their book, "Even an average golfer can create a convincing, if fictitious, air of assurance and knowledge that can completely destroy an opponent's confidence."
Has reading this $3.95 guide increased his friend's golf game? "Not really," admits Mr. Frederick, "but he can talk to other golfers now and sound like he knows what he's talking about."
Michele Spence, one of the Centennial Press editors responsible for the guides, said she selects authors based on their knowledge of the subject -- and their ability to "stand back from that subject matter and laugh at it."