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The Man of the House by Stephen McCauley

The Man of the House

by Stephen McCauley

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Set in and around Cambridge, Boston, Clyde the narrator tells how he tries to come to terms with his problems: his difficult, critical and supposedly ailing father, his lover Gordon who left him for another man, and his unambitious job to mention a few. Intricately involved in his story are his mildly successful writer friend Louise, and his flat mate the dashingly handsome but annoyingly straight Marcus, both friends from his university days. When Louise appears on the scene she is accompanied by her twelve year old son, Ben, and it seems Marcus is the father. Also present are Clyde’s neurotic sister Agnes and her difficult daughter, and the odd-ball occupant of the flat downstairs.
There is no doubt that this is a well written and very funny story, with much of the humour along with the action and tension provided by the presence of Ben and his adopted dog Otis. But it is hard to feel much for the adult characters; they are generally aimless and unwilling to accept the realties of life. All might have been redeemed if something had been achieved by the time we reach the conclusion, but apart from Clyde’s belated acceptance of some more obvious facts, very little is achieved. Ultimately the story is negative, and at the end I felt very let down. ( )
1 vote Bembo | Oct 31, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671002252, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:15 -0400)

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A drawing room comedy on two men who share a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One is Clyde, a homosexual, the other is Marcus, straight. The action begins with the arrival of Louise who is Clyde's friend and Marcus' former lover. With Louise is Ben, her son, and it befalls to Clyde to gently break the news to Marcus that he is the boy's father.… (more)

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