Synopses & Reviews
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 hes 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 Benjamins 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 Id known Benjamin, Id 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—theres 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 Richards 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.
“Alternatives to Sex
is a bravura performance, chockablock with well-chosen words, sweeping psychological insights no truer than they should be, and characters who just might fulfill their desires for lodging and love.”
“[McCauley’s] characters are complex and charismatic, his dialogue is winning, and consistently he plumbs the intersection of love and desire—always with brio and good cheer. He is reminiscent in that regard of Elinor Lipman and Nick Hornby.”
—The Boston Globe
“Reading Insignificant Others
is like being a guest at the best kind of dinner party—every morsel is delicious, every guest is fascinating, and best of all you are in the company of the utterly irresistible Richard, who has strong opinions and deep insights about almost everyone, except perhaps himself. Even as I devoured this book I was deeply sorry to reach the end. Happily, I can go right back to read it again and again.”
—Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture and The House on Fortune Street
“Stephen McCauley is a social satirist in the tradition of Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde…with fierce, occasionally lacerating wit and a commendable willingness to dally in ambivalence and moral ambiguity."
—Los Angeles Times
“Like the Victorian novels admired by McCauley’s narrator, Insignificant Others
is fuelled by curiosity about the way we live now—our deceptions and self-deceptions, our great yearnings and small vanities, our many excruciating social miscues and misfires. It is an incisive, rueful, humane, very smart, and very funny book.”
—Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index
“The master of the modern comedy of manners.” —USA Today
“Charming…McCauley displays terrific comic insight about our penchant for denial while still revealing a great deal of compassion for human foibles.” —Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald
“A sparkling writer . . . he tosses off witticisms with the alacrity of a Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde.” —Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
“Insignificant Others is vintage McCauley, offering up the usual mixture of hilarity, pathos, irony, and regret. It’s The Office meets Jane Austen, with a twist.” —Mameve Medwed
“A novel with pithy observations, lightness of touch, and generosity of spirit.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Stephen McCauley is the author of five bestselling novels. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit StephenMcCauley.com.