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Alternatives to Sex: A Novel by Stephen…
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Alternatives to Sex: A Novel (2006)

by Stephen McCauley

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Post 9/11 slice of life novel. William, a middle aged gay man can't seem to find a purpose in his life. Selling houses and apartments in Boston doesn't fill his soul, nor does trolling the internet in search of one night stands. This is a first person account of his day to day life, his friends, his clients. His clients are the best parts of the novel. How William tries to «analyze» his clients, the university professor/writer, the middle aged couple in crisis. The rest is pretty much like watching paint dry. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Aug 25, 2013 |
William Collins is in his forties, gay, a Boston realtor (estate agent), he is comfortably off and perhaps lacking a little drive as far as his work is concerned, but more worryingly his private life is getting a little out of control. In addition to his compulsive cleaning habits for the last year he has become increasingly addicted to nightly anonymous gay sex, tie ups he makes on-line. He decides it is time he did something about his habits and so decides to correct his ways.

While not immediately successful, he does eventually make some progress, but more important is what happens on the way. He becomes overly involved with his newest clients, a wealthy couple seeking an apartment in Boston, and finds himself, more than reluctantly, trying to sell his best friend Edward's apartment. Edward is a gay air steward who is finding his job increasingly traumatic post 9-11, and is planning to move away to start a new life working for his recently found friend, a butch ex-soldier with who offers an aggressive assertiveness programme. William not only has doubts about the wisdom of Edward's decision, he neither likes nor trusts Edward's new friend, but more importantly he is seriously going to miss Edward.

As his latest sales approach completion his private life both begins to resolve itself at the same time as presenting William with more decisions, especially in regard to Edward.

Alternatives to Sex is an engaging and very funny well written story, as one has come to expect from its author. It does initially seem a little uninvolving, as much perhaps because until we get to know the characters the humour seems to take centre stage, but as we get to know William and others it improves markedly. ( )
  Bembo | Oct 6, 2011 |
"Alternatives to Sex" is a likable middlebrow gay novel, set in Boston shortly after 9/11. The central character, William Collins, is a middle-aged realtor, single, who at the outset of the book makes a half-hearted commitment to celibacy. The plot follows Collins' professional life as much as his personal one. Really, this is as much an example of the "real estate" genre, as Collins is shown making several lucrative deals involving a variety of colorful characters. If you've ever been curious about the real estate scene in Boston, this may be the novel for you!

McCauley deals deftly - though lightly - with a number of important themes: individual and collective trauma, aging, casual sex, fidelity, friendship, the importance of getting a good inspection before signing a real estate deal. Nothing is too profound here, as the novel moves inexorably toward an all-too predictable "happy ending", but there's a lot of good humor along the way, some very funny bits and more than a few laugh-out-loud lines. ( )
  yooperprof | Jun 20, 2010 |
William Collins is a real estate agent in Boston in a boom market but isn't going to many closings because of his addictions to ironing, cleaning, and making "dates" using the Inernet with men who have fake names. His best friend Edward is a flight attendant who is scared to fly since 9/11. His renter won't pay the rent and makes it seem like William's fault. One day while he is in his office, Charlotte and Samuel Thompson walk in looking for help with finding an apartment to purchase in Boston. To William, they appear to be the "perfect" couple, but he soon learns otherwise and along the way also learns some things about love and commitment and how to jump in and live his life versus standing on the sidelines and watching it go by. Very witty, well-written book which I thoroughly enjoyed. ( )
  CatieN | Feb 14, 2010 |
A post 9/11 novel about sex and real estate. The usual mix of McCauley humour pathos and human frustrations.

William, an estate agent and single gay man is struggling to stop having anonymous sex. He meets a couple who make him reflect on his own situations and the realtionships in his life.

A funny and interesting book where nothing much happens yet you travel with William on his thoughts and frailities.

I enjoyed it as with other of his books, you can bank on a main character that it relatable and realisitic and some wonderful secondary characters. ( )
  withwill | Sep 20, 2009 |
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My decision to practice celibacy had nothing to do with prudery or penance, morality or manners, dysfunction, or fear of disease. It had very little to do with sex. It was all about real estate.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743453190, Paperback)

Boston real estate agent William Collins knows that his habits are slipping out of control. Due to obsessive-compulsive daily cleaning binges and a penchant for nightly online cruising for hookups, he finds his sales figures slipping despite a booming market. There's also his ongoing struggle to collect the rent from his passive-aggressive tenant and his worries about his best friend, Edward, whom he's certainly not in love with. Just as he decides to do something about his life, he meets Charlotte and Samuel, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect city apartment. "Happy couple," he writes in his notes. "Maybe I can learn something from them." What he ultimately discovers challenges his own assumptions about real estate, love, and desire; and what they learn from him might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale.

Full of crackling dialogue delivered by a stellar ensemble of players, Alternatives to Sex is a smart, hilarious chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America -- where the desire to do good is constantly being tripped up by the need to feel good. Right now.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:20 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"William Collins is a real estate agent working near Boston. Despite a boom market, his sales figures aren't what they should be, due mostly to the distractions of compulsive ironing and housecleaning binges and his penchant for nightly online cruising for hookups - "less impersonal than old-fashioned anonymous sex because you exchanged fake names with the person."" "There's also his struggle to collect the rent from Kumiko Rothberg, his passive-aggressive tenant, and his worries about his best friend, Edward, a flight attendant he's certainly not in love with." "William has known for some time that his habits are slipping out of control. But he figures that "as long as I acknowledged my behavior was a problem, it wasn't one."" "When he finally decides to do something about his life, he needs a role model of calm stability. Enter Charlotte O'Malley and Samuel Thompson, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect city apartment. "Happy couple," William writes in his notes. "Maybe I can learn something from them." But what he learns challenges his own assumptions about real estate, love, and desire. And what they learn from him might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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