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literature

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McCauley, Stephen (b. 1955)  
 
page: 1  2  

Critics were as equally impressed with McCauley's sophomore effort as they were with his first novel, citing for particular attention his strong characterizations and droll dialogue. As noted by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, the satisfaction of McCauley's novel "arises from the clever, revealing dialogue and the reader's intense involvement with the sharply drawn characters."

Karen Karbo, in her impassioned review of the novel for the New York Times Book Review, called McCauley "hugely talented," and mused that he is "really the secret love child of Edith Wharton and Woody Allen." She also highlighted McCauley's "knack for detail" and the way he applies it "to the self-delusion of an engaging cast of characters."

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McCauley's third book, The Man of the House (1996), investigates father-son relationships, and is a slight departure for the writer, told in a more resigned and melancholic tone than his first two comically wry novels. It is also, arguably, his least successful novel to date.

Meg Wolitzer, in the New York Times Book Review, asserted that while McCauley had "mastered the small yet perfect comic gesture," his "control over a larger canvas is more problematic. We see him working through certain complex ideas about attachment and retreat, but his narrator's sluggishness in the face of these concerns can make readers impatient, the way people sometimes feel about chronically underachieving friends."

In 2001, McCauley published True Enough, which focuses on Desmond, a gay college professor and author of celebrity biographies, and Jane, a married public television producer, both of whom are middle-aged and vaguely discontent with their lives, and who develop a close bond while collaborating on a series of documentaries about "America's forgotten mediocrities."

Kevin Allman, in the Lambda Book Review, maintained that the novel's fundamental premise is that "the lies we tell other people aren't as corrosive as those lies we tell ourselves."

McCauley's most recent novel, Alternatives to Sex (2006) is a sharp, sophisticated social satire, set in Boston one year after the events of September 11, 2001: a period in American history when, as McCauley explained in an interview, "everyone was trying to decide between doing whatever it took to combat the collective evil of mankind and do good, and on the other hand, putting all altruism aside and doing just whatever it took to feel good."

Lewis DeSimone observed in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide that McCauley's novel "makes much of the communal post-traumatic stress disorder infecting the country, as its sundry characters take on various obsessions in an effort to make sense of their lives, or at least to distract themselves from the fear and uncertainty that grip them."

In the universe of McCauley's novel, these obsessions include buying and selling real estate, compulsive house cleaning, and promiscuous online sexual hookups.

As with most of McCauley's other novels, Alternatives to Sex garnered generally enthusiastic reviews. Dennis Drabelle, in the Washington Post Book World, called the novel "a bravura performance, chockablock with well-chosen words, sweeping psychological insights no truer than they should be, and characters who just might fulfill their desires for lodging and love, if only they knew what those were."

In addition to his novels, McCauley has also published several pieces of short fiction. His story "The Whole Truth" was published in Harper's in 1992 and reprinted in On the Couch: Stories about Psychotherapy (1997), edited by Erica Kates. His autobiographical essay "Let's Say" was included in Boys Like Us: Gay Writers Tell Their Coming Out Stories (1996), edited by Patrick Merla. "At the Threshold" was published in the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine in 2000, and "In the Greenhouse" was published in 2003 in the Washington Post Sunday Magazine.

McCauley has also published several reviews, articles, and profiles in the New York Times Book Review, Gay Community News, Travel and Leisure, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Details, among other periodicals.

McCauley has taught creative writing at Brandeis University, Harvard University, Wellesley College, and the University of Massachusetts.

In 1995, he was named Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the Ministry of Culture in France, where his books are bestsellers.

He currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Craig Kaczorowski

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    Bibliography
   

Allman, Kevin. "Lists and Lies." Lambda Book Report (June 2001): 36.

Canning, Richard. Hear Us Out: Conversations with Gay Novelists. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

DeSimone, Lewis. "Social Satire After 9/11." The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide (November-December 2006): 42.

Drabelle, Dennis. "Hot Properties; Hunting for the Perfect Home and the Perfect Mate." The Washington Post Book World (June 25, 2006): 7.

Karbo, Karen. "Coupling Up in Cambridge." The New York Times Book Review (May 31, 1992): 12.

Plunkett, Robert. "True Enough." The Advocate (June 5, 2001): 74.

Schaeffer, Susan Fromberg. "George and Nina, Powerless to be Hatched." The New York Times Book Review (March 22, 1987): 7.

Wolitzer, Meg. "Fold in the Mayo." The New York Times Book Review (February 25, 1996): 12.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: McCauley, Stephen  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated September 23, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/mccauley_stephen.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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