Insignificant Others

Stephen McCauley, Author Simon & Schuster 25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7432-2475-8

Narrator Richard and his partner, Conrad, are a well-adjusted gay couple living in Boston at “the end of the American Century” in McCauley’s adroit latest (after Alternatives to Sex). They have an understanding that allows for the occasional infidelity, but when Richard realizes that Conrad’s current fling may be luring him away, he begins to worry. It doesn’t help that Richard is becoming infatuated with his own insignificant other, Benjamin, who leads a double life as a supposedly happily married father of two. Richard’s problems, though, go well beyond his love life, and with a dry, caustic wit and the occasionally weighty social observation, he describes how he’s coping with his own exercise addiction, his suspicious sister, a client at work who may or may not be on the brink of going crazy, a friend who can’t bring himself to tell his wife about his health problems, and his deeply confused feelings about Conrad and Benjamin. But it’s an unlikely alliance with Conrad’s business partner and the slow unraveling of his problems that adds an unexpectedly and refreshingly sentimental dimension to this accomplished comedy. (June)