Patrick O'Neil is a travel agent who never goes anywhere. His closest confidante, Sharon, is chain-smoking her way to singles hell, passing up man ('He used the word 'lifestyle' four times since we met') after man ('He said I have nice feet'). His parents, proprietors of a suburban men's store, can't help fighting about how best to interfere in ...
Patrick O'Neil is a travel agent who never goes anywhere. His closest confidante, Sharon, is chain-smoking her way to singles hell, passing up man ('He used the word 'lifestyle' four times since we met') after man ('He said I have nice feet'). His parents, proprietors of a suburban men's store, can't help fighting about how best to interfere in their three sons' lives. And his lover, Arthur, whom Patrick can't quite commit to, wants to cement their relationship by buying a house. Then a call comes in the middle of another sleepless night. Tony, Patrick's straight-as-an-arrow younger brother, has fallen in love with a beautiful lawyer...unfortunately, she's not the woman he's already pledged to marry. Tony's life is a mess. Finally, the brothers have something in common. That's when things get complicated. "The Easy Way Out" is about family and friendship, about being in love and out of love, about the perils of modern life. It's a story of doing what you want to do, not what you should do.
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Second novels are problematic, and this one proves it. Stephen McCauley does write wonderfully, and if you like the kind of stuff that is produced in so-called creative writing classes, this book is definitely for you. Here's the problem. The situation of the characters at the beginning of the book is an engaging ploy. Then nothing happens for most of the book. If you're still reading it, you get to find out what happens to the characters close to the end of the book. This could be a new art form. A three-act opera, with no action in Act 2. I'm not saying that plot-heavy writing is better that plot-weak writing, don't get me wrong. The problem is that the reader doesn't really connect with any of the characters, funny and idiosyncratic though they are. So the reader may not care what ultimately happens to the characters (who in fact, seem hyped for comedic value, which further distances the reader from identifying with the characters). The lead character is someone I would have no interest in meeting. I don't think a believable movie could be made out of this novel.
Jul 5, 2007
A joy to read by Stephen McCauley. Keep up coming!
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