Sunday, March 20, 2011

Alternatives to Sex, by Stephen McCauley

Steven McCauley's books always seem to end too soon. There is something about the easy pacing that has me settling in for a long read, only to discover that it's over.  His characters are so familiar to me; perhaps I like his books so much because they could be written about me, if I were a fastidious gay man with no kids.

This is not my favorite of his books, but here are some things I liked about it:
  • It has a good ending. No neatly wrapped packages, but some resolutions - perfect.
  • The protagonist is likable, but also slightly annoying. This makes him not only seem real, but makes him seem like a friend - one you've known for a long time, and whose bad habits you accept.
  • There are a lot of post-9/11 ruminations and discussions, but you're not beaten over the head with the tragedy. In fact, there is a slightly sardonic, nothing-will-be-the-same-blah-blah-blah tone.
Somehow the writing didn't seem quite as polished as his other work. I think it was getting better as it went along. If you've never read Stephen McCauley before, start with another, such as Insignificant Others, or his beautiful debut, The Object of My Affection. If you already love him, go ahead and read this one next.

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