William Collins, a Boston realtor, has known for some time that his habits are slipping out of control, but 'I figured that as long as I acknowledged my behaviour was a problem, it wasn't one'. He finally decides to do something about his compulsive cleaning binges, his lacklustre sales figures, and his penchant for nightly anonymous online sex, but he needs a role model for calm stability. Enter Charlotte O'Malley and Samuel Thompson, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect apartment in the city. 'Happy couple' William writes in his notes. 'Maybe I can learn something from them'. But what William learns challenges his own assumptions about love, real estate and desire. And what they learn from him just might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale. Stephen McCauley's new novel is a cunningly spun chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America, where the heartfelt desire to do good, is constantly tripped up by the need to feel good.
Stephen McCauley is the author of The Object of My Affection, made into a film starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, True Enough, The Easy Way Out and The Man of the House, all available from Granta Books. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.