Insignificant Others: A Novel

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 8, 2010 - Fiction - 256 pages
3 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 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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Middle age is nagging at Richard Rossi, but at least he has his “At Least List” to remind him things could be worse: “I might be going gray,” goes one entry, “but at least I’ve got hair.” A human-resources executive at a Boston-area software firm called Connectrix, Richard has succeeded by introducing playful perks that make the company “feel more like a fun campus than a workplace.” If only it were that easy to bring a spark to his long, solid relationship with Conrad, an art consultant; instead, he exercises compulsively and keeps a married man on the side. “We’re partners, but there’s room to wander, too,” is how Richard explains the arrangement. “Not perfect, but a design for living.” That is, until Conrad finds his own “insignificant other” — in Columbus, Ohio, of all places. This is Mr. McCauley’s sixth novel, and while his characters are getting older, their creator’s wit remains spry. SCOTT HELLER - NY Times
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Review: Insignificant Others

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Stephen McCauley, is the author of Object of my Affection, and several other novels. He is a brilliant wordsmith although the plots are sometimes lacking. I felt several of his characters in this book ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

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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