Thomas Beller opens his short-story collection, Seduction Theory, with a quote from J.D. Salinger—and rightly so. His New York–dwelling men and women have the same kinds of awful romantic misadventures Holden Caulfield might experience at age 27. Beller affects no literary pretensions when writing about crushes (“It was a wonderful thing, their first kiss, but not a complete success”), and unshrinkingly describes ridiculous dating dilemmas: “[H]e ordered a bottle of wine after glancing over the wine list, his eyes sticking to the thin column of numbers on the right, since the wider column of names and dates next to it meant nothing to him. He ordered the second-cheapest one.” Five interrelated coming-of-age stories set in the ’70s lack the other tales’ immediacy. But these, too, show Beller’s darkly hilarious sensibility. He reads at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (NodB)