Sunday, May 06, 2018

What is Stephen McCauley reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life: A Novel.

His entry begins:
I’m a totally eclectic reader in terms of time and place, but not so much in terms of genre. What I mean is, I prefer to mix up reading novels written in different decades and centuries by writers of vastly different backgrounds and countries of origins. I’ve started to read more African writers and also 20th-Century Japanese writers. On the other hand, I pretty much stick to realistic, character-driven fiction. I’m not much interested in genres such as fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even mystery. I wish I were. I see it as a lack of imagination on my part, but I gave up trying to force myself to read books that don’t grab me. Life is too short. I’ve also started to do more rereading than I used to. Since I read more for character than story, it doesn’t bother me that I know what’s going to happen.

I just finished The Sparsholt Affair, the brand new novel by Alan Hollinghurst. He’s one of my favorite living writers. Pretty much every sentence he writes has some arresting detail or witty insight into people. This particular novel spans many decades, and Hollinghurst makes incredibly bold choices about...[read on]
About My Ex-Life, from the publisher:
David Hedges’s life is coming apart at the seams. His job helping San Francisco rich kids get into the colleges of their (parents’) choice is exasperating; his younger boyfriend has left him; and the beloved carriage house he rents is being sold. His solace is a Thai takeout joint that delivers 24/7.

The last person he expects to hear from is Julie Fiske. It’s been decades since they’ve spoken, and he’s relieved to hear she’s recovered from her brief, misguided first marriage. To him.

Julie definitely doesn’t have a problem with marijuana (she’s given it up completely, so it doesn’t matter if she gets stoned almost daily) and the Airbnb she’s running out of her seaside house north of Boston is neither shabby nor illegal. And she has two whole months to come up with the money to buy said house from her second husband before their divorce is finalized. She’d just like David’s help organizing college plans for her 17-year-old daughter.

That would be Mandy. To quote Barry Manilow, Oh Mandy. While she knows she’s smarter than most of the kids in her school, she can’t figure out why she’s making so many incredibly dumb and increasingly dangerous choices?

When David flies east, they find themselves living under the same roof (one David needs to repair). David and Julie pick up exactly where they left off thirty years ago—they’re still best friends who can finish each other’s sentences. But there’s one broken bit between them that no amount of home renovations will fix.

In prose filled with hilarious and heartbreakingly accurate one-liners, Stephen McCauley has written a novel that examines how we define home, family, and love. Be prepared to laugh, shed a few tears, and have thoughts of your own ex-life triggered. (Throw pillows optional.)
Visit Stephen McCauley's website.

Writers Read: Stephen McCauley.

--Marshal Zeringue