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Insignificant Others: A Novel
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Insignificant Others: A Novel

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  433 ratings  ·  75 reviews
What do you do when you discover your spouse has an insignificant other?

How about when you realize your own insignificant other is becoming more significant than your spouse?

There are no easy answers to these questions, but Stephen McCauley—"the master of the modern comedy of manners" (USA Today)—makes exploring them a literary delight.

Richard Rossi...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 8th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2010)
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Paul
May 27, 2011 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paul by: NLF (2011)
Richard Rossi’s world – up until now a pleasant and safe place to be – is beginning to collapse around him. A gay man, he is ensconced in a Beacon Hill, Boston, apartment with his partner Conrad – a younger, handsome stud. Yes – truly a stud. Richard has just discovered that Conrad has an insignificant other whom he sees on frequent “business” trips to Ohio. In addition, the year is 2006 and “W” is the president, so Richard also has to witness the crumbling of the economy and (at least in Richar...more
Jimmie
I've really been trying to find some good contemporary, middlebrow LGBTIQQ fiction, and this wasn't it.

The chapters ranged from a few paragraphs to three pages, and I got the impression that even McCauley couldn't invest enough into the story to go for much longer than that in one stretch. He had over a half-dozen subplots with no recognizable main plot; not all of the loose ends were tied up at the end, either. The only character I found remotely interesting, the protagonist's lover's business...more
Nick
I have always really liked Stephen McCauley's novels, though of late he has been featuring a few too many sad-sack gay men who tend to be a little depressing. No longer! Richard Rossi, the protagonist of Insignificant Others, may be stuck in a rut, but he's definitely not sad.

McCauley is seriously funny; he always has been. The only thing that sometimes gets hard to fathom is that a character this screwed up could possibly be self-aware enough to be so funny about his pathologies and bad choice...more
Rory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carlos Mock
Insignificant Others by Stephen McCauley

Richard Rossi is psychologist working in the Human Resource Department of Connectrix, a software company. He is involved with Benjamin Lamartine, a bisexual married man, while in a seven year relationship with Conrad Mitchell.

Conrad is partner's with Doreen McAllister and they own Mitchell and McAllister, a consulting firm that helps very rich people buy and display important pieces of art. Their work forces them to travel a lll over the country, so Richar...more
John
I didn't really like the characters all that much (especially Brandon), but McCauley writes so damned well I had trouble putting the book down! The ending was a bit abupt (tacked on/rushed), and I'm not sure fully confident I got what happened, but maybe that was just me?

Quibble: The book covers shows a pair of side-by-side neckties, and there's a mention of the tie Richard is wearing at the end of a workday. However, his workplace seems like one of the most casual ones I've run across. Odd ...
Suzanne Macartney
Has the trademark humor I've come to depend on from this author. Wry, spot on observations seemingly pulled from someone's actual life. This one is a touch more solemn than earlier stories, consistent with its older protagonist. But it's also crisply honest and thoughtful so a fine trade-off. Nothing could really match the fun & frivolity of The Easy Way Out. (Though I'm always hopeful!) Solid and satisfying.
Oscar E
La segunda novela de McCauley que leo pero, a diferencia de "El objeto de mi afecto" quedé enganchado al verme indiscutiblemente identificado con el personaje principal que vive en un mundo corporativo, envuelto en pensamientos de mediana edad y tratando de definir con claridad cuales son los siguientes pasos, para dónde y con qué objetivos pueden darse.
Dejando el lado emocional un poco aparte, el estilo fácil y sencillo de seguir de McCauley también me deja gratamente sorprendido y satisfecho....more
Curtis
Richard Rossi, an HR professional at a software company in Boston, seems to be doing well in life. His job is stable - and he's being considered for a promotion - and things are going well with him and his partner, Conrad. But when Richard discovers a text message on Conrad's phone just prior to another of Conrad's business trips to Ohio, he finds himself wondering if things are quite as 'together' as they appear. But does Conrad have what Richard refers to as an 'Insignificant Other'? And, as R...more
Jack
An almost alarmingly direct portrait of a thoroughly modern gay relationship, in which there is still evident emotional bond, and even powerful sexual attraction - but then there is The Drift. Monogamy is no longer entirely as necessary as perhaps before. Both partners in this book are drifting into affairs which threaten to turn serious - or perhaps already have.

The narrator, fighting valiantly and with increasing futility against the realities of middle age, channels his anger at his lover's a...more
K2 -----
Stephen McCauley, is the author of Object of my Affection, and several other novels. He is a brilliant wordsmith although the plots are sometimes lacking. I felt several of his characters in this book fell flat and I'd had higher hopes, having not read of of his novels in years.

He must be a fairly neurotic guy judging from insight into the quirks of his characters. I found myself reading aloud several of his sentences and wanting to add them to my collection of "quotables" but the book can only...more
Joanna
"Conrad's eager friend lived in Columbus. I'd been to Columbus a number of times and had nothing against the city, but knowing Conrad's limpid snobbery; I knew someone from there was not a threat the way a paramour from New York or Los Angeles would have been." This sentence, which appears on the fourth page of Stephen McCauley's novel, is what made me laugh out loud and drew me into buying the book.

What a true delight to find that, in addition to being a reflection on fidelity and desire and th...more
Dan C.
I haven't read any Stephen McCauley in a long time. The only other book of his that I've read is The Object of My Affection. I read it after I saw the movie starring Jennifer Aniston and the always-great and guy-I-wish-I-were Paul Rudd. The movie version was a cute little romantic comedy with just the right amount of bittersweet infused. Just thinking about it makes me want to watch it again. The book was another animal altogether. It is a well written book and certainly worth the read, but I wa...more
Diego Gomez
The first thought that came to my head when I first laid eyes on the cover of this book was: gay. The second: I MUST READ IT! Written by Stephen McCauley, author of acclaimed novel The Object of My Affection, this satirically delicious novel of love and lust (and everything in between) does not disappoint.

Richard Rossi is your average successful, exercise-aholic, fifty-year-old gay man. He has got it ALL figured out. As long as he is faithful in his infidelity to his long-term partner, Conrad,...more
Vestal McIntyre
Here's a good old-fashioned comedy, well-wrought and absolutely charming. I laughed out loud many times. McCauley maintains great balance in his writing — between the bitchy and the tender, the light and the dark, the heart and (if I may wax literary) the spleen. Richard, our narrator, keeps endless “At Least Lists” (I might be going gray, but at least I still have hair) -- an idea so funny and true that I wished I had thought of it myself.

It struck me as I read this how rare it is to find a nov...more
Sara
This book was organized into very many short units of a few paragraphs or maybe two pages at most. This made it very easy to read and it felt real, as if the reader is immersed in the stream of Richard's life, rather than being presented with polished chapter-length episodes. At the same time, as in life, it was tricky to tell what was important and what was a small incident with no future repercussions. Some things that came up had no follow up. For instance, what ever happened with Jerry? But...more
Sara
He's a great writer but this book lacks the gravitas he appears capable of producing. The story was anemic. No climax, no nothing. He's great at writing about human inclinations and tendencies, which I'm a big fan of but I wish it was kicked up a notch. Basically, just a commentary on the nature of cheating partners.
Tress Huntley
OK, I know I'm a little biased here. I was so excited to even find this new book of McCauley's in the "new fiction" section of my library. It has been a few years since he's put out a new book, but his style has only improved with time. Honest and insightful and really made me laugh out loud at times. McCauley's novels perfectly fill a space in modern fiction that addresses the love experiences of homosexual men, and makes it apparent that they are fraught with all the same neuroses, flaws, tend...more
Lisa
This, like all McCauley's stories, is readily accessible; a guilty pleasure in the vein of "chick lit." Wading through the plodding, detailed back story about each character is exhausting though. Better when the details about characters emerge organically from the tale. Much more elegant.
I wound up quite liking, Richard, the main character, despite his snarky, jaded perspective on many things. And I also appreciated the nice, somewhat unexpected evolution of his relationship with Doreen, his SO...more
Joanne hale
i wanted to give this a 4, but really my score is a 3.75. the story line was nice, i liked the characters, i could relate to many of their feelings. but it fell a tad short for. it wasnt great, but it was a fun quick read, something you can sit by the pool with and enjoy..or even on a plane and enjoy.

its a fun book, and doreen ends up being a great character, and i like richard a lot. he talks and acts younger than his age. but all in all its really the story line, and their use of insignificant...more
Peter
I liked McCauley's previous book, but this one was just kind of eh for me. The idea of the insignificant other was a good one, but I didn't care enough about the characters to feel that the hook was used to its best potential. Richard felt a little too nebbish, even for me, and his relationship with Benjamin made him hypocritical, which made his reaction to Conrad seeing someone else less hurtful. I actually had to return the book to the library when I was about 30 pages from the end, and I didn...more
Mike
This is a frank and fascinating portrait of a gay couple and the "insignificant others" each of them has in his life. I really enjoyed reading this, and truly was left wanting more. I love how the friendships and relationships between various characters metamorphosed over the process of the book and its exploration of the importance of first impressions; how they cause us to be steadfast to some and dismissive of others despite subsequent, contradictory evidence. It also imparted a strong sense...more
Joe Scholes
Sep 22, 2010 Joe Scholes rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fiction that reads like non-fiction real life.
Recommended to Joe by: Greg Rowland
Shelves: read-in-2010
Insignificant Others is the first novel I’ve read by Stephen McCauley. It is a well written novel that is a “slice of life” story about a gay man in his 50s forced to evaluate his investment in his most important relationships. There’s no great epiphany in his self-examination, but rather a slow dawning of understanding as he realizes the people in his life that he classifies as insignificant others turn out to be some of his most pivotal relationships. This is an interesting novel with just the...more
Gochrisgo
Yes, this book is a light fun read, but readers who call this book a comedy or a satire might be missing something more significant. I see this book as a rich character study of urban, middle-class gay life in the 90's; it is also an examination of the compromises we make as we age. Each character is packed with detail and nuance. The backdrops -- Boston and life at a growing tech company -- are also carefully portrayed.

The will-he-or-won't-he ending of this book reminds me of Anne Tyler's Acci...more
David
rare foray into fiction for me. Narrated by a middle-aged gay man living in Boston and working in Human Resources, living with a man who's cheating on him, but also cheating himself with a bisexual guy who's married to a woman. Some fairly funny side characters such as his personal trainer. Not heavy on plot or scenery--most of the action is just office politics or snappy dialogue about relationships. Ideas about fidelity, honesty, aging play out in straightforward manner. I doubt it will be con...more
Nette
A fairly lightweight comedy of manners about infidelity. I think the book's structure was odd and distracting -- he'll break a scene right in the middle of a conversation, start a new chapter called "Ugly" or "Disney", and continue the scene. However, the main character is an HR guy for a software company, and I really liked that subplot. He shows how the Gen Y engineers and "creatives" view their jobs as a necessary evil, easily cast aside for better offers or more interesting careers in, say,...more
Randal
The occasional clever turn of phrase and wry social observation do not for a great book make. "Insignificant Others" is so steeped in postmodern isolation that it seems to have no heart. I kept looking for real warmth and affection between characters (even the remnants of earlier feelings). Instead, everyone exists in a state of constant competition for no other reason that it seems to be the only way they know how to interrelate. It's a coolly detached view of social interactions is so disaffec...more
Christopher Castellani
McCauley is a master of this form, and there is no wittier writer at work today. Every single page of this book is delightful and rings utterly true. This is a deceptively smart book that sneaks up on you with its investigations of relationships and human nature and the ways we navigate our own senses of right and wrong, especially when it comes to love. McCauley makes it look easy, but the kind of humor and insight he demonstrates in this book are the absolute most difficult things to do in fic...more
Dio Gica
I love Stephen McCauley's books, all of them! I've read every single thing he's ever written, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

I was very ecstatic, to my surprise, to have found out by accident that he wrote a new one: Insignificant Others. Fortunately, I was traveling to Ecuador at the time - so I was relishing the idea of being trapped in a tight box in the sky, with nowhere to go and nothing to do but read this book.

And I was not disappointed!!!
Mark Leonard
Entertaining

I was continually engaged by this. McCauley makes great characters. I thought there was going to be a trite happy ending, but he went beyond that and went someplace quite interesting.
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“From what I can tell, the chief distinguishing factor between children and adults is that children hear everything while appearing not to and adults hear nothing while pretending to listen.” 2 likes
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