Alternatives to Sex: A Novel
by Stephen McCauley
Simon & Schuster. 304 pages, $24.
SINCE HIS 1987 DEBUT, The Object of My Affection, Stephen McCauley has staked his claim to the modern gay comedy of manners. In a series of novels—The Easy Way Out, The Man of the House, True Enough—he has turned a gently satirical eye to the vagaries of love, both gay and straight, demonstrating that neither sexual orientation has a monopoly on dysfunctional relationships. His first-person narrators, focused on evaluating the quirks of the characters around them, are often clueless about the most important aspects of their own lives, while their sarcastic humor is often a defense against the vulnerability of an open heart.
In his latest work, Alternatives to Sex, that defensiveness has come to embrace an entire citizenry—and with good reason.