Mark Glassman does a surprisingly good job of feigning confidence, fooling everyone but himself.
Mark Glassman is twenty-five in 1979. Self-taught after dropping out of college, he devises a course of study that encompasses such varied works as The Sorrows of Young Werther, The Universal Baseball Association, and Portnoy's Complaint. But the amount of alcohol he consumes, the vast quantities of pot he smokes, and the other drugs he experiments with compromise the seriousness of this endeavor.
When Glassman falls in love with Teresa Devlin, he realizes that he is terrified of her sexually, and that his only recourse is to resume his pursuit of Sarah Sloane, one of his housemates in a shared living arrangement. Soon Glassman arrives at the neat psychological ploy of playing the two women off one another.
Eventually, Glassman packs his bags for Long Beach Island, where he spends the winter feeling sorry for himself. Will he ever fully recover from acting out to an extraordinary degree? Is happiness even possible for a person such as himself?