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.)
Praise for My Ex-Life
"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
"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)
"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."