The last person he expects to hear from is Julie Fiske. It’s been decades since they’ve spoken, and he’s relieved to hear she’s recovered from her brief, misguided first marriage. To him.
Julie definitely doesn’t have a problem with marijuana (she’s given it up completely, so it doesn’t matter if she gets stoned almost daily) and the Airbnb she’s running out of her seaside house north of Boston is neither shabby nor illegal. And she has two whole months to come up with the money to buy said house from her second husband before their divorce is finalized. She’d just like David’s help organizing college plans for her 17-year-old daughter.
That would be Mandy. To quote Barry Manilow, Oh Mandy. While she knows she’s smarter than most of the kids in her school, she can’t figure out why she’s making so many incredibly dumb and increasingly dangerous choices?
When David flies east, they find themselves living under the same roof (one David needs to repair). David and Julie pick up exactly where they left off thirty years ago—they’re still best friends who can finish each other’s sentences. But there’s one broken bit between them that no amount of home renovations will fix.
In prose filled with hilarious and heartbreakingly accurate one-liners, Stephen McCauley has written a novel that examines how we define home, family, and love. Be prepared to laugh, shed a few tears, and have thoughts of your own ex-life triggered. (Throw pillows optional.)
confidante, Sharon, is chain-smoking her way to singles hell, passing up man
after man. His parents, proprietors of a suburban men's store whose fortunes
are sagging more visibly than its customers, can't agree how best to interfere
in their sons' lives. And his lover, Arthur (a nice golden retriever of a guy
to whom Patrick can't quite commit), wants to cement their relationship
by buying a house.
Then a call comes in the middle of another sleepless night. Tony, Patrick's
straight-as-an-arrow younger brother, has fallen in love with a beautiful
lawyer who is turning him on to...opera. Unfortunately, she's not the woman he's already pledged to marry. Tony's life is a mess. Finally, the brothers have something in common.
Stephen McCauley's new novel is a moving and hilarious chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America where the desire to do good is constantly being tripped up by the need to feel good. Right now.
William Collins is a real estate agent working near Boston. Despite a boom market, his sales figures aren't what they should be, due mostly to the distractions of compulsive ironing and housecleaning binges and his penchant for nightly online cruising for hookups -- "less impersonal than old-fashioned anonymous sex because you exchanged fake names with the person."
There's also his struggle to collect the rent from Kumiko Rothberg, his passive-aggressive tenant, and his worries about his best friend, Edward, a flight attendant he's certainly not in love with.
William has known for some time that his habits are slipping out of control. But he figures that "as long as I acknowledged my behavior was a problem, it wasn't one."
When he finally decides to do something about his life, he needs a role model of calm stability. Enter Charlotte O'Malley and Samuel Thompson, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect city apartment. "Happy couple," William writes in his notes. "Maybe I can learn something from them." But what he learns challenges his own assumptions about real estate, love, and desire. And what they learn from him might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale.
Full of crackling dialogue delivered by a stellar ensemble of players, Alternatives to Sex is social satire at its very best: A smart, sophisticated, and astonishingly funny look at the way we live now.
Thirty-five-year-old Clyde Carmichael spends too much time at things that make him miserable: teaching at a posh but flaky adult learning center; devouring forgettable celebrity biographies; and obsessing about his ex-lover, Gordon. Clyde's other chief pursuit is dodging his family -- his maddeningly insecure sister and his irascible father, who may or may not be at death's door. Clyde's in danger of becoming as aimless as Marcus, his handsome (and unswervingly straight) roommate, who's spent ten years on one dissertation and far too many fizzled relationships.
Enter Louise Morris. Clyde's old friend and Marcus's onetime lover is a restless writer and single mother, who shows up with Ben, her son and a neurotic dog in tow. The looming question of Ben's paternity nudges Clyde back into the orbit of his own father -- and propels our endearing hero into the kind of bittersweet emotional terrain that McCauley captures so well.
How about when you realize your own insignificant other is becoming more significant than your spouse?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but Stephen McCauley—"the master of the modern comedy of manners" (USA Today)—makes exploring them a literary delight.
Richard Rossi works in HR at a touchy-feely software company and prides himself on his understanding of the foibles and fictions we all use to get through the day. Too bad he’s not as good at spotting such behavior in himself.
What else could explain his passionate affair with Benjamin, a very unavailable married man? Richard suggests birthday presents for Benjamin’s wife and vacation plans for his kids, meets him for "lunch" at a sublet apartment, and would never think about calling him after business hours.
"In the three years I’d known Benjamin, I’d come to think of him as my husband. He was, after all, a husband, and I saw it as my responsibility to protect his marriage from a barrage of outside threats and bad influences. It was the only way I could justify sleeping with him."
Since Richard is not entirely available himself—there’s Conrad, his adorable if maddening partner to contend with—it all seems perfect. But when cosmopolitan Conrad starts spending a suspicious amount of time in Ohio, and economic uncertainty challenges Richard’s chances for promotion, he realizes his priorities might be a little skewed.
With a cast of sharply drawn friends, frenemies, colleagues, and personal trainers, Insignificant Others is classic McCauley—a hilarious and ultimately haunting social satire about life in the United States at the bitter end of the boom years, when clinging to significant people and pursuits has never been more important—if only one could figure out what they are.
Jane Cody keeps lists. After all, how else would she keep track of her life—her job producing a Boston TV show; her amiable but frankly dull second husband; and her precocious six-year-old son who “doesn't do small talk” but loves to bake. And as if that weren't enough she has an acid-tongued mother-in-law living in her barn, an arthritic malamute lodger to walk, and a dangerously seductive ex-husband on the scene. In New York, Desmond Sullivan is fretting that his five-year relationship with smart, sweet Russell is too monogamous and settled. Perhaps a spell as writer-in-residence at Deerforth College will cure that, and also allow him to finish his biography of one of the 'sixties greatest forgotten mediocrities, torch singer Pauline Anderton? When Jane and Desmond meet in Boston, they embark on a TV documentary about the elusive Anderton, which is to take them on a journey of self-discovery in which they learn as much about their own secrets and lies than they ever wanted to know.