George and Nina seem like the perfect couple. They share a cozy, cluttered Brooklyn apartment, a taste for impromptu tuna casserole dinners, and a devotion to ballroom dancing lessons at Arthur Murray. They love each other. There's only one hitch: George is gay. And when Nina announces she's pregnant, things get especially complicated. Howard -- Nina's overbearing boyfriend and the baby's father -- wants marriage. Nina wants independence. George will do anything for a little unqualified affection, but is he ready to become an unwed surrogate dad? A touching and hilarious novel about love, friendship, and the many ways of making a family.
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The author presents many different living arrangements and definitions of family in the book. Which, if any, seem to work the best? What is he trying to say about the choices presented by modern life? How do you feel about his point-of-view?
Money is a theme that runs through the novel. For example, George seems to be disturbed by the yuppie values that Paul's friends in Vermont have adopted. How else is George's attitude expressed? Why does George feel this way about wealth? Do you agree with him?
Both George and his mother share a fear of flying, yet both manage to take a plane flight during the course of the novel. What does this fear, and the fact that the characters overcome it, symbolize?
What characteristics do Nina and George have in common? In what ways are they different? Does their relationship have a positive or negative effect on their ability to form intimate relationships with other people?
George and Nina take ballroom dancing lessons more than once during the course of the novel. What does dancing signify to them, and why does the author include these scenes in the book?
George's family wants want him to pose as Nina's husband at Frank's wedding. Rather than do that, he misses the event. What do you think about his family's request? Do you think George made the right decision? What would you have done in the some situation?
What do you think the chances are that George's family will come to terms with his homosexuality? Do you think that George's parents could ever accept Paul, Gabriel, and George as a family?
Paul's mother is a former communist, and still a political activist. Why does the author include her in the novel? What is the significance of her friendship with Nina, and the fact that she moves into Nina's apartment at the end of the book?
Do you think the author believes people should stay together in relationships? Does he believe that they can they find happiness with each other? How do you feel about his point of view?
The book ends with many questions left unanswered—whether George and Paul will stay together, for example, or if Nina and Howard will ever get married. What do you think happens to the characters after the last chapter?
Stephen McCauley is the author of Alternatives to Sex, True Enough, The Man of the House, The Easy Way Out, My Ex-Life, and The Object of My Affection, which was adapted into a film starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit his website at StephenMcCauley.com.
People Joyously comic...shimmers with hope, humor, and compassion.
The New York Times Book Review Very funny, exceptionally vivid....Surely one of best books about what it is like to be young in these crazy times.
Los Angeles Daily News Charming and affecting...The strong plotting, memorable gallery of characters and wry look at the complicated state of relations between the sexes could beguile any reader from Bensonhurst to Burbank.