We'll be meeting at Magnet on Tuesday, August 10 at 7:30 pm (that's tonight!) to discuss the first 120 pages of Insignificant Others by Stephen McCauley, our official August book club selection. See you all there!
1. On page 2, Richard says that he and his partner Conrad have stopped using the word “monogamy,” but continue to say “I love you,” which Richard finds more important. But actions speak louder than words. What actions point to Richard and Conrad’s love, if any?
2. Richard is not as worried about Conrad having an affair with someone from Ohio as he would be if the paramour hailed from New York or Los Angeles. Are gay men from metro areas more menacing? Or is this just a comment on Conrad’s snobby taste?
3. On page 5, Richard talks about Americans undergoing an ego adjustment. What are some concrete examples of this in the book? Conrad and Doreen? Co-worker Brandon? Richard himself?
4. What type of relationship does Richard have with his part-time lover Benjamin’s own significant others (wife and children)?
5. How does Richard’s relationship with Benjamin compare with his relationship with Conrad? Who’s really the insignificant other?
6. On page 68, Richard mentions that he has no problem with acting as long as it’s good acting. Who’s doing the most acting and who’s the best actor in the novel?
7. Expanding on question # 1, on page 85, Richard suggests that love and tenderness kills passion. Love (emotional), passion (sexual), monogamy (loyal) are the usual ingredients of a successful relationship. Is one more important than the other? Can you have two and negotiate the third, as Richard and Conrad have done?
8. Richard tries to convince co-worker Brandon to stay at the company, but Brandon thinks it’s too stable and wants to go play poker in Las Vegas. What does Richard think of this impulsive jump? Who’s Richard’s safe(r) bet – Conrad or Benjamin?
9. Talking to his trainer on page 110, Richard says that “sometimes the most settled lives have the biggest distractions.” Can we ever settle or are we always looking for the next best thing?
10. Ironically, Richard talks about distractions while working out, his small distraction from his bigger distraction (Benjamin). Is he caught in a cycle?
11. Expanding on question # 6, on page 118, Richard states that “self-awareness and confession make up for almost any flaw, in my book.” It’s evident that he doesn’t follow his own ideology. Can we trust a hypocrite narrator? Do his flaws humanize him or did you find them infuriating?
12. At the end of the first half, Richard forms an unlikely alliance with Doreen, the most important woman character in the book and Conrad’s “wife.” Going into the second half, what do you think her motives might be?
Hope you've all enjoyed getting an intimate look at modern day relationship power play. Discussion of the second half of Insignificant Others will be held at Magnet on Tuesday, August 24 at 7:30 pm.