Book Review: Insignificant Others by Stephen McCauley
It’s been more than twenty years since I read Stephen McCauley’s first novel The Object Of My Affection. When I lived in Boston I had the pleasure of meeting McCauley at a reading he gave at the Boston Public Library. I later read and enjoyed McCauley’s second and third novels The Easy Way Out and The Man Of The House. And then, as with John Irving I lost track of Mr. McCauley for a bit. I recall seeing his fifth novel Alternatives To Sex at the circulation desk when I worked for the library, but alas the copy I handled was due to be shipped somewhere else for a hold and I never did get around to following up on it.
That’s a shame since Insignificant Others makes clear that Mr. McCauley continues to be a master of the comic novel. As seems to be McCauley’s pattern the narrator is again a gay man, in this instance Richard Rossi–a 50-ish psychologist who works in human resources at a young, hip software company in Cambridge, Massachusetts who lives with his slightly younger huzband, Conrad in an historical apartment in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. The “affairs” that each of these two men have with their “insignificant others” play out in McCauley’s usual comedy of manners which, joyfully, continues to be very appealing.
I particularly liked the many short and cleverly named chapters. (No chapter numbers and no chapters longer than a couple of pages.) McCauley has a real gift for capturing New Englanders in all their beguiling complexity and it was a joy to once again spend a few hours in McCauley’s Boston. If you enjoy light comic novels or have an interest in gay New Englanders, Insignificant Others is Highly Recommended.
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