Easy Way Out

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Patrick O'Neil is a travel agent who never goes anywhere. His closest
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.
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About the author

Stephen McCauley is the author of Alternatives to Sex, True Enough, The Man of the House, The Easy Way Out, and The Object of My Affection. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit his website at www.stephenmccauley.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jul 31, 2012
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781439122303
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The bestselling author of The Object of My Affection and True Enough delivers his most compelling and richly observed novel to date with this portrait of one man's search for the holy trinity of modern life -- true love, good sex, and great real estate.

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.
National Bestseller

“I didn't know how much I needed a laugh until I began reading Stephen McCauley's new novel, My Ex-Life. This is the kind of witty, sparkling, sharp novel for which the verb ‘chortle’ was invented.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

“McCauley fits neatly alongside Tom Perrotta and Maria Semple in the category of ‘Novelists You’d Most Like to Drive Across the Country With.’” —The New York Times Book Review

David Hedges’s life is coming apart at the seams. His job helping San Francisco rich kids get into the colleges of their (parents’) choice is exasperating; his younger boyfriend has left him; and the beloved carriage house he rents is being sold. His solace is a Thai takeout joint that delivers 24/7.

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.)

What do you do when you discover your spouse has an insignificant other?

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.
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