Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: "Insignificant Others" by Stephen McCauley

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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