An "Indie Next" pick for May 2018
A Publisher's Lunch "Buzz Book" for Spring/Summer 2018
An Amazon Top 20 Editors' Pick for Spring 2018
David Hedges's life is coming apart at the seams.
His job helping San Francisco rich kids get into the colleges of their (parents') choice is exasperating; his younger boyfriend has left him; and the beloved carriage house he rents is being sold. His solace is a Thai takeout joint that delivers 24/7.
The last person he expects to hear from is Julie Fiske. It's been decades since they've spoken, and he's relieved to hear she's recovered from her brief, misguided first marriage. To him. Julie definitely doesn't have a problem with marijuana (she's given it up completely, so it doesn’t matter if she gets stoned almost daily) and the Airbnb she's running out of her seaside house north of Boston is neither shabby nor illegal. And she has two whole months to come up with the money to buy said house from her second husband before their divorce is finalized. She'd just like David's help organizing college plans for her 17-year-old daughter.
That would be Mandy. To quote Barry Manilow, Oh Mandy. While she knows she's smarter than most of the kids in her school, she can’t figure out why she’s making so many incredibly dumb and increasingly dangerous choices?
When David flies east, they find themselves living under the same roof (one David needs to repair). David and Julie pick up exactly where they left off thirty years ago—they're still best friends who can finish each other's sentences. But there's one broken bit between them that no amount of home renovations will fix.
In prose filled with hilarious and heartbreakingly accurate one-liners, Stephen McCauley has written a novel that examines how we define home, family, and love. Be prepared to laugh, shed a few tears, and have thoughts of your own ex-life triggered. (Throw pillows optional.)
Media and praise for My Ex-Life
"What makes My Ex-Life so striking is McCauley's droll precision with language. Like the best of comic fiction writers—I'm thinking, in particular, of the immortal Laurie Colwin—McCauley draws his readers into reflecting on some of the big questions—sexuality, mortality, failure—with the lure of laughter." Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air" (NPR)
"McCauley fits neatly alongside Tom Perrotta and Maria Semple in the category of 'Novelists You'd Most Like to Drive Across the Country With'—fine company, indeed." New York Times Book Review
"Summer reads don't get much sweeter than this novel...McCauley charmingly juggles an assortment of funny, believable characters...as each, in their different ways, find their way home." Seattle Times
"An irresistible doozy of a plot. With My Ex-Life, a heartwarming comedy of manners about second chances and starting afresh, he has pretty much outdone himself...McCauley fires off witticisms like a tennis ace practicing serves... Warm but snappy, light but smart—and just plain enjoyable." Heller Mcalpin, NPR.org
"Wildly appealing." People
"A charming slice of life about former spouses (one gay, one straight) on the other side of 50 who have been kicked around by life but find purpose when they reconnect in a seaside Massachusetts town. Laughs included." Entertainment Weekly "Must List"
"It's hard to convey the sheer joy of reading McCauley's effervescent, penetrating prose that can be simultaneously hilarious and heart-breaking." Bay Area Reporter
"Nothing is more satisfying, however, than what can be aptly described as a plain, old-fashioned 'good read,' especially one as well-written as My Ex-Life from skillful storyteller and bestselling author Stephen McCauley." Lambda Literary Review
"McCauley has a remarkable talent for telling stories laced with insight into human behavior." Shelf Awareness
"As always, McCauley's effervescent prose is full of wit and wisdom on every topic—college application essays, Airbnb operation, weed addiction, live porn websites, and, most of all, people. 'When everything looks perfectly right about a person, there's usually something significantly wrong.' 'All couples start off as Romeo and Juliet and end up as Laurel and Hardy.' A gin and tonic for the soul." Kirkus Reviews
"McCauley delights with intimately, often hilariously observed characters and a winking wit that lets plenty of honest tenderness shine through. Readers will love spending time in these pages." Booklist, starred review
"Sweet-but-unsentimental paean to altruism and friendship that gets to the heart of people, be they nice or nasty...A tender, strikingly 'true' story that is warm, clear, and nuanced." Library Journal
"My Ex-Life is a warm, witty, and surprisingly revealing look at life's second chances. Book clubs will be applauding Stephen McCauley's newest novel. This gem is a 'must read' for 2018." Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books and Valley Bookseller (for IndieNext)
"You can recognize great writers in their minor characters... Stephen McCauley belongs to an elite club of authors who create such memorable supporting roles, and in his latest, My Ex-Life, he serves up a narcissistic, San Francisco real estate agent, a bitter, tourist-town shopkeeper, and an exotic next-door philanderer, to name just three. Do great minor characters threaten to steamroll main characters off the stage at any given moment? Of course they do, and that's how they earn their unforgettable characteristics." James Conrad for Chronogram
"This story of loves both great and small is most certainly not saccharine sweet. My Ex-Life reminds us that there is a reason for everything, and that sometimes it's wise to go back to the familiar (albeit old) parts of ourselves to remind us just how far we've come. Stephen McCauley writes like your best friend—the one who always says what you're thinking but you'd never have the guts to utter out loud. His perception of even the mundane tasks of life reveals a witty tone dripping with self deprecation and amusement. This book is most certainly one you should put at the top of your to-be-read pile!" Jordan Arias, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL (for IndieNext)
"The humor is fresh, effortless, and perceptive. It left me cackling late into the night, stopping every now and then to read aloud passages of pure comic brilliance. McCauley has always had a keen eye for modern relationship dynamics, and his wits are sharper than ever here. There is so much to love about My Ex-Life, readers will be clamoring for McCauley's backlist." Dave Wheeler, Associate Editor, Shelf Awareness
"A rich, yet delicate ragout of wonderfully vivid characters, hilarious dialogue, and spot-on cultural criticism. It satisfies on every level." Richard Russo, author of Everybody's Fool
"A wise, ruefully funny, and ultimately touching exploration of mid-life melancholy and unexpected second chances. Stephen McCauley is a wonderful writer, and this may be his best book yet." Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher
"This wonderful novel has its finger on the pulse of the present, but the questions it asks—about family and the ineluctable past and the strange, sustaining grace of friendship—are as timeless as the elegance and craft of its prose. Stephen McCauley is a master, one of our wisest and funniest observers of American life." Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
"Steve McCauley's best novel so far—and that's saying a lot." Anita Diamant, author of The Boston Girl and The Red Tent
"From the first page of My Ex-Life, I was sending Stephen McCauley mental valentines and figurative fan notes, thanking him for this delicious, smart, funny novel... Oh, if all books could be like this one!" Elinor Lipman, author of On Turpentine Lane
"Before you read My Ex-Life, make sure the person you sleep with is willing to be woken constantly by your laughter." Katherine Heiny, author of Standard Deviation
From the author
"I began working on My Ex-Life many years ago sitting in the basement of a friend's house during a snowstorm. It started off with a first-person narrator talking about his pothead friend. At some point, he began talking about this friend's disastrous first marriage, and I quickly realized that the marriage had been to him. At that moment, everything changed in my thinking about the characters and their story. Also the point of view, which I realized would have to be more expansive. I wrote the novel in notebooks, completely out of sequence. I just choose a scene I wanted to write at any given moment and wrote it. I ended up with huge numbers of scenes that I discarded, but I loved the process. We all have ex-lives, and the central assumption of the novel is that one of them could well be the life we were meant to live after all."