Neil Strauss goes from AFC(Average Frustrated Chump) to PUA (Pickup Artist) able to pick up the hottest girls in any location, and joins a weird community of manipulative sex-crazed males. This is his story.
I assummed this was one big piece of fiction. Not that I disbelieved the pickup techniques Strauss describes. I just didn't believe in the characters and drama he creates around the set piece that becomes known as 'Project Hollywood'. I didn't believe Mystery, Papa, Herbal, or even in Style (his own moniker). I didn't particularly believe in any of the women he describes or that he actually interviewed Courtney Love, Britney Spears, or Tom Cruise.
I was wrong. I can't think that The Times of London would publish an interview backing up multiple aspects of the story unless it were true.
Strauss is a geek who can't get laid. He apprentices himself to the master PUA (encountered online, of course) and learns how to pick up women. They refine their techniques and get better and better. They recruit more disciples, charging for workshops and running seminars in the wild at clubs and bars. They create 'Project Hollywood' a house in LA that they share with other PUAs with the goal of reversing the equation and getting attractive women to come to them.
Drama and chaos ensues, as it so often does in internet-related groups. Strauss allegedly realizes the emptiness of this life and hooks up with an alpha female (who dumped him about six months after the book ends according to wikipedia) and moves out of the house. End of story.
Morality: Strauss defends his chosen path quite vigorously several times. It's about bringing people together. Women want sex just as much as men, they just don't like to admit it as much. Turning other men into PUAs helps their self-esteem and gives them the opportunity to have relationships they otherwise might never have.
I'm a pretty judgmental gal. I have some guidelines I use when I need to decide if something is moral or not. Here's the first one: does it require lying? Answer: yes. Almost all the techniques and lines are flat out lies.
Strauss lies to women in order to manipulate them into having sex with them. And then he teaches other people how to do this. It's not just one lie. Everything is a lie. The PUAS construct entire personas and entire conversations ahead of time until Strauss admits they become 'social robots' reciting preprogrammed dialogue.
That's not a genuine connection. That's not a relationship. It's Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It's scary and unhealthy and frankly a bit disgusting.
I can only hope that guys who pick this up looking for a how-to manual instead of memoir read through to the end and the spectacular crash and burn.