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The Man of the House

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  363 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews

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.


Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 1st 1996 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1996)
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Ian Not His Real Name
How We Became Acquainted

Since reading this book, I have bought everything that Stephen McCauley has written. I love the insight he has into people generally and the people in this book. You get to know the full dimension of his characters. Nobody is fundamentally good or bad, everybody is human and interesting. You get the impression that you are living in a real world and that these people are (your) real friends or acquaintances.
What a waste of a good writer. All the non-functioning characters become incredibly boring - not outweighed by clever phrases and amusing bits.
May 12, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a title that caught my eye while walking through the library stacks, so I literally had no idea what to expect. First the positive: I love McCauley's writing style. I felt like I was reading Literature with a capital 'L'. The narrator's descriptions and wry observations were humorous and evocative. The recipe thread running through the novel was hilarious. Now the negatives (note the plural): Every character in the book was dysfunctional, several of them extremely so. When you add in th ...more
Richard Jespers
Jan 21, 2015 Richard Jespers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written but predictable. One feels there is a serious novelist lurking just beneath the surface of this work [in my considered opinion].

One Fabulous Quote of Many:

"I went to a bank of pay phones discreetly tucked into one corner of the lobby and took my place in a row of business-suited men and women, the men all mumbling into the mouthpieces and the women talking loudly. In hotel lobbies, women are usually calling home to check on their kids and the husbands they're about to betray with th
Suzan Poisner
Sep 10, 2015 Suzan Poisner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I didn't really like any of the characters, the story was so well written that I was drawn in, looking forward to what was on the next page. The author did a wonderful job laying out the environment in such exquisite detail that I could smell the leaves underfoot as Clyde went on his walks around town, and watch the dust swirl as his antique fans stirred the heavy air in his sharply angled attic ceilings. I'll be on the lookout for another book by Stephen McCauley.
Jun 06, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been languishing on my shelf for quite a long time so it's not like I was really excited to read it, but glad I did. It's an amusing tale of 35-year-old gay man named Clyde who teaches listlessly at an adult education facility, while dealing with a cantankerous father and other assorted odd characters. McCauley's writing style so entertained me that I put several of his other books on my TBR list.
John Bateman
Mar 28, 2015 John Bateman rated it really liked it
The comic aspect of this novel is earnest and fun, without dismissing the real struggle of imperfect relationships and family. I had a strange empathetic crush on Clyde, and felt optimistic over his budding paternalistic friendship with Ben. This is one of the stories that forced me to care enough about the characters to wonder what happened after the last page.

I wish someone had introduced me to Stephen McCauley sooner.
Oct 15, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbtq, abandoned
It was taking me forever to get through this book. So I stopped reading it. At the rate I was going, it would have taken me another month.
Not saying it was a bad book, per se, but...
The author is wonderful at descriptions of the things that are going around him (the main character 1st person POV). But there was just too much. It took away from the plot. Actually, I have no idea what the plot was.
This guy missed his boyfriend. He was taking care of a dog for a boy whose mother was a good friend a
Stephen McCauley has a great gift for witty observation. His books are always well written without becoming over-stuffed.

I've read nearly all of his novels. Unfortunately I have to say this is the least successful of his books. It is packed with characters, but none of them feel vivid. I am most interested in the boy, but he drifts around the book without definition.

McCauley is so good with pop culture references. It is interesting to read one of his older books and see what parts stay relevan
Shane Malcolm
Sep 13, 2012 Shane Malcolm rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a light but well-written book between giant literary tomes; fans of gay fiction
This was recommended to me by my friend Susan Z. I love gay fiction, but a lot of the titles I have read are dramatic, dark, and tragic. This was refreshingly comical, and very plausible. I appreciate the fact that McCauley deals with many different types of relationships here (gay man and straight woman, gay man and straight male roommate, gay man and straight woman's son), and the plot is very engaging, if not edge-of-your-seat. I definitely plan to check out another McCauley book at some poin ...more
Feb 14, 2013 Deana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If this novel is even close to accurate remind me to never move to Cambridge, the people sound awful! There were funny bits in the book here and there but overall it's a mildly dull story about immature, entitled and uninspired people. The main character Clyde is an ass who thinks he's clever ( he's not) and the only person with a hint of self confidence and goal setting abilities gets mocked throughout the story. The writing style keeps the book from being terrible.
Jul 30, 2013 Hope rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice little read. I liked the main character and felt like the story line and he were not treated like this is "queer fiction." It's just who he is and a part of his life. His romantic or want-to-be-romantic relationships are just that, and he is influenced in them by his past with his family or origin and his life experiences just like anybody else.
Suzanne Macartney
Aug 19, 2007 Suzanne Macartney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends
Shelves: fiction
Unlucky in love and life, Clyde teaches at an adult learning center, his roommate is a gorgeous, procrastinating PhD student, and he is reunited with an old pal, a single mother in Boston. Father issues arise. Touching, sad, funny. Sometimes when I can't sleep I reread pages of this adorable novel.

Jan 08, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McCauley writes a wonderful, funny, breezy novel and this one is no different. Clyde Carmichael is a man with issues who is surrounded by a wild cast of characters who also have issues. This is the simple story of how they all interact and face life. It's just a nice, easy, fun read.
Thom Mckiernan
This book definitely has very funny observations about paternity but the lead character, Clyde is a loser living with another loser and is friends with a bunch of other losers. If it wasn't for the humour I think it would have been a very depressing and pointless tale.
Oct 16, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Set in highly educated Cambridge, Mass, this humorous but sad novel is populated with characters stuck in their pursuits, lost in dead-end jobs, or searching for resolution of past relationships. It sounds bleak but paradoxically ends up being entertaining.
Took me a while to get into this novel, but by the end I found the characters appealing (in all their flaws). A good read.
Bob Smith
Feb 18, 2012 Bob Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a comic masterpiece. It's the funniest, sad novel I've ever read.
May 17, 2010 Reeshard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the tale of a real man, for every man, woman and child.
Love this author - have read every one of his books.
Jul 24, 2010 Joanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A likable book. that was also irritating.
Andy White
Jun 11, 2014 Andy White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny and heartbreaking read.
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Jun 16, 2016
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Samantha Guido
Samantha Guido marked it as to-read
May 27, 2016
Galya rated it liked it
May 17, 2016
Jason Hanrahan
Jason Hanrahan marked it as to-read
May 15, 2016
Andrew is currently reading it
May 12, 2016
Becky Carleton
Becky Carleton rated it really liked it
May 07, 2016
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