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Insignificant Others: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743224752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743224758
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Narrator Richard and his partner, Conrad, are a well-adjusted gay couple living in Boston at the end of the American Century in McCauley's adroit latest (after Alternatives to Sex). They have an understanding that allows for the occasional infidelity, but when Richard realizes that Conrad's current fling may be luring him away, he begins to worry. It doesn't help that Richard is becoming infatuated with his own insignificant other, Benjamin, who leads a double life as a supposedly happily married father of two. Richard's problems, though, go well beyond his love life, and with a dry, caustic wit and the occasionally weighty social observation, he describes how he's coping with his own exercise addiction, his suspicious sister, a client at work who may or may not be on the brink of going crazy, a friend who can't bring himself to tell his wife about his health problems, and his deeply confused feelings about Conrad and Benjamin. But it's an unlikely alliance with Conrad's business partner and the slow unraveling of his problems that adds an unexpectedly and refreshingly sentimental dimension to this accomplished comedy. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Winter in Boston sets the mood for Richard Rossi's reflections. Once a psychologist, now working in HR for a high-tech company, he is often bemused by corporate nuances. His relationship with live-in lover Conrad has reached a level of mundane confusion, and the spice that “insignificant other” Benjamin provides now has less savor. What to do? Richard is an exercise junkie, performing two sessions a day, one in a sunny upscale gym, the other in a basementlike facility. The fact that Richard is on a quest for a more meaningful life is apparent to us, but not him, so he is astonished to find that his conversations at work and with friends and family have a new, more substantive feel and are having a greater effect than any of his therapy sessions. McCauley's turns of phrase give Richard's jaded, ironic, and terse observations a magnificently elitist snarkiness, and as amusing as the story is, readers will truly care about Richard's fate. --Danise Hoover

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Customer Reviews

His characters are normal in a very quirky way.
barney
Author provides occasional insightful comments buried in the mostly boring story.
JEFFERY WEBER
I found it to be an enjoyable, easy, and at times very insightful read.
B. Wilfong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A psychologist by degree, but now employed in HR for a youth-oriented Boston software company, Richard Rossi is well aware of the frequent contradictions in the workplace between appearances and reality, of "playing" the rules rather than following them to the letter, and of embracing selfishness - to some extent - as a means of survival. These qualities are also a part of his personal life, having entered his 50's, stagnating in a long-term relationship with Conrad, a fastidious design consultant who travels a lot on business. This provides ample opportunities for Richard to get together with Benjamin, a closeted married man whom he has been seeing for some time. This "best of both worlds" proves to be far less, when Richard starts to fall in love with Benjamin, and also learns that Conrad has someone in Ohio, who has asked him to move there to be with him. At the same time, Richard's security at work is threatened by impending cutbacks, which gives him second thoughts about everything in his life.

I've enjoyed all of McCauley's books to date, and this one also has his trademark wit, along with an insightful and realistic character-driven story. Though some may perceive it as a bit negative, I see it as a good take on the "understandings" many of us use to define our relationships, since they generally lack legal boundaries or rules. Five touchy-feely stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By marguerite gieseke on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the very first mini-chapter... titled "Dinner and Monogamy",Insignificant Others was a fast, fun read that I would highly recommend.
The lead character Richard Rossi is kind and funny and has the quick wit of someone you wish you could be friends with...barring that, the next best thing would be to get lost in a novel alongside. Through Richard, Stephen McCauley writes of human faults and contradictions without judgment and instead with kindness and understanding. Fear is tempered with gentleness rather than anger along with the notion that gay or straight, we are all longing for acceptance and honesty and the loves that comes with it. All in all, Insignificant Others is a lovely read, and one that will not disappoint.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ford Ka on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
McCauley is back with a new book and it is a good one.
Richard Rossi, a fifty-something fitness-maniac, an ex-psychologist who ended up as an HR manager in a software company seems to have made it. He has both a boyfriend called Conrad who is younger and natural blond (if you don't mind the highlights) and an insignificant other, Benjamin, he meets for sex on a fairly regular basis. The book traces a difficult year in the life of Richard which forces him to question what he used to find certain and important.
The plot is rather loose and you should not expect many big thrills here, the overall impression is rather of a chunk of life which had been going on before and will continue after you close the book. Richard temporarily loses and gets back his boyfriend, breaks up and gets back with Benjamin. Conrad tries to replace Richard with another sugar-daddy. An expected raise and promotion go to an unexpected candidate. Personal trainer quarrels with his crazy, drug-addict boyfriend. The cast of characters is quite impressive and McCauley is good both at inventing them and at them and at giving them life even if their part in the novel is quite small.
But it is not the plot that really attracted me to this book. McCauley is eerily successful in describing the US in 2006, two years into the second term of George W. Bush. The image he draws is extremely subtle, a remark here, a description there (take a closer look at the two fitness clubs and the virtual reality golf club!), but it is extremely convincing. On the surface it is a book about a successful gay man who is starting to lose it (his physical prowess, boyfriend, position at the company etc.) but on a deeper level it is a book about country which slowly falls apart at the seems. Somewhat scary but thought-provoking reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Magnus Eisengrim on July 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the slightest McCauley novel of the several I've read, but it is a McCauley novel. So overall it's readable and likeable, frequently funny, and sometimes sharply insightful. If you're a fan, you'll enjoy being back in McCauley's world. If you don't know his work, start with "The Easy Way Out" or "The Object of My Affection" instead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Hoffer on August 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Richard Rossi is at a crossroads in his life. He's pushing 50, but he's in the best shape of his life; he's in a long-term relationship, but they've never been particularly focused on monogamy; he (sort of) enjoys his HR job at a software company, but a few major crises have sprung up; and one of his oldest friends has a health crisis but wants Richard to share the news with his wife. And then Richard discovers that his partner may be more serious about a fling he's in the midst of, just at the same time Richard is struggling with his feelings about Ben, a married man that he has been seeing.

How Richard chooses to deal with all of the chaos in his life is at the crux of Insignificant Others. The only way Richard has ever been able to handle anxiety and stress is through exercise, but even that doesn't seem to provide the relief he needs. For the first time in his life he is being forced to take control and make tough decisions, and he isn't too sure he wants to.

I've been a big Stephen McCauley fan for years, but I'll admit this book isn't one of his best. Richard's indecisiveness and willingess to let everything unfold around him got frustrating after a while. As one character said to him, "if you never say what you want, if you never figure out what you want, you never have to worry about being disappointed in not getting it." I didn't feel as if any of the characters were particularly likeable, and while I was interested to see how the story unfolded, I found the ending to be the most intriguing piece of the book. I'm a little disappointed, since McCauley usually takes a few years between books. I'd definitely recommend you read Object of My Affection (much, much better than the Jennifer Aniston movie) or any of his other books instead of this one.
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