Stephen McCauley's much-loved novels The Object of My Affection and The Easy Way Out prompted The New York Times Book Review to dub him "the secret love child of Edith Wharton and Woody Allen." Now McCauley stakes further claim to that title -- and more -- with a rich and deftly funny novel that charts the unpredictable terrain of family, friends, and fathers.
Thirty-five-year-old Clyde Carmichael spends too much time at things that make him miserable: teaching at a posh but flaky adult learning center; devouring forgettable celebrity biographies; and obsessing about his ex-lover, Gordon. Clyde's other chief pursuit is dodging his family -- his maddeningly insecure sister and his irascible father, who may or may not be at death's door. Clyde's in danger of becoming as aimless as Marcus, his handsome (and unswervingly straight) roommate, who's spent ten years on one dissertation and far too many fizzled relationships.
Enter Louise Morris. Clyde's old friend and Marcus's onetime lover is a restless writer and single mother, who shows up with Ben, her son and a neurotic dog in tow. The looming question of Ben's paternity nudges Clyde back into the orbit of his own father -- and propels our endearing hero into the kind of bittersweet emotional terrain that McCauley captures so well.