“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 seventeen-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.)
But when his second novel bombs and he finds himself in the grip of writer's block, Wyler discovers that success—and the New York publishing scene—is a fickle mistress, indeed. Creatively barren, nearly destitute, and longing for Iris, he accepts a job writing "Ask Mr. Blue," a column doling out advice to the lovelorn. It may not be glamorous work, but through it Wyler discovers what's really important and sets out to win back the woman he left behind.
The Cook, Wayne Macauley's breakout novel, is funny and sad, strange and satirical, and weirdly moving.
At Cook School, Zac dreams about becoming the greatest chef the world has seen. 'You have been chosen, says Head Chef. Of all the young people wasting their lives you and you only have been chosen.'
Zac thinks he’s on his way when he gets a job as house cook for a wealthy family - the Mistress and Master and their daughters, Melody and Jade.
But when things start to fall apart, Zac knows he must take control.
Wayne Macauley is a Melbourne writer. He has published two novels, Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe (2004) and Caravan Story (2007). His short-fiction collection, Other Stories, was released in 2010.
'A riot of a book! Gripping and subversive...' Nick Cave
'Irresistible - The Cook reminds us just how exciting it is to read a wonderful and original novel.' Lloyd Jones
'Blackly funny and deliciously satirical, this book skewers our culture of food worship while feeding our curiosity about kitchens.' Age Magazine
'This brilliant and richly layered book by Melbourne author Wayne Macauley is almost impossible to put down...For Macauley is writing about nothing less than the social, cultural and moral excesses of late capitalism: about the logical absurdities of conspicuous consumption, the decadence of "fine dining" and the contemporary obsession with cooking.' Sydney Morning Herald
'This is a novel that punctuates the fine life, eviscerates food wankery and highlights the emptiness and decay of the distracted and wealthy...' Rachel Edwards, The Book Show
'The Cook is a confident and potent piece of work...One of the novel's most impressive achievements is its creation of a droll, readable, vernacular prose, which is not only rhythmically insistent but able to hint at the tension and the instability beneath its apparently detached and affectless surface.' Weekend Australian
'In the past few years, Wayne Macauley has published some of the most memorable fiction going in this country. His books and stories are satirical fables in which the properties are recognisably contemporary and Australian, indeed Melburnian, but his use of them is carefully distanced from realism and he has a prose style of remarkable poise and control that can allow his narratives to take off into the bizarre without ever losing their cool. Beneath that cool is a steady anger at the depredations of late capitalism, at the attempts of laissez-faire to turn us all into Homo economicus or addicted consumers...This is Macauley's longest novel so far and marks a brilliant development in his dark vision of the way we live.' Sunday Age
"Bryan Mealer has given us a brilliant, and brilliantly entertaining, portrayal of family, and a bursting-at-the-seams chunk of America in the bargain.”
— Ben Fountain, bestselling author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
A saga of family, fortune, faith in Texas, where blood is bond and oil is king...
In 1892, Bryan Mealer’s great-grandfather leaves the Georgia mountains and heads west into Texas, looking for wealth and adventure in the raw and open country. But his luck soon runs out. Beset by drought, the family loses their farm just as the dead pastures around them give way to one of the biggest oil booms in American history. They eventually settle in the small town of Big Spring, where fast fortunes are being made from its own reserves of oil. For the next two generations, the Mealers live on the margins of poverty, laboring in the cotton fields and on the drilling rigs that sprout along the flatland, weathering dust and wind, booms and busts, and tragedies that scatter them like tumbleweed. After embracing Pentecostalism during the Great Depression, they rely heavily on their faith to steel them against hardship and despair. But for young Bobby Mealer, the author’s father, religion is only an agent for rebellion.
In the winter of 1981, when the author is seven years old, Bobby receives a call from an old friend with a simple question, “How'd you like to be a millionaire?”
Twenty-six, and with a wife and three kids, Bobby had left his hometown to seek a life removed from the blowing dust and oil fields, and to find spiritual peace. But now Big Spring’s streets are flooded again with roughnecks, money, and sin. Boom chasers pour in from the busted factory towns in the north. Drilling rigs rise like timber along the pastures, and poor men become millionaires overnight.
Grady Cunningham, Bobby's friend, is one of the newly-minted kings of Big Spring. Loud and flamboyant, with a penchant for floor-length fur coats, Grady pulls Bobby and his young wife into his glamorous orbit. While drilling wells for Grady's oil company, they fly around on private jets and embrace the honky-tonk high life of Texas oilmen. But beneath the Rolexes and Rolls Royce cars is a reality as dark as the crude itself. As Bobby soon discovers, his return to Big Spring is a backslider’s journey into a spiritual wilderness, and one that could cost him his life.
A masterwork of memoir and narrative history, The Kings of Big Spring is an indelible portrait of fortune and ruin as big as Texas itself. And in telling the story of four generations of his family, Mealer also tells the story of America came to be.