Patrick O'Neil is a travel agent who never goes anywhere. His closest confidante, Sharon, is chain-smoking her way to singles hell, passing up man ('He used the word "lifestyle" four times since we met') after man ('He said I have nice feet'). His parents, proprietors of a suburban men's store, can't help fighting about how best to interfere in their three sons' lives. And his lover, Arthur, whom Patrick can't quite commit to, wants to cement their relationship by buying a house. Then a call comes in the middle of another sleepless night. Tony, Patrick's straight-as-an-arrow younger brother, has fallen in love with a beautiful lawyer ... unfortunately, she's not the woman he's already pledged to marry. Tony's life is a mess. Finally, the brothers have something in common. That's when things get complicated. The Easy Way Out is about family and friendship, about being in love and out of love, about the perils of modern life. It's a story of doing what you want to do, not what you should do.
Stephen McCauley is the author of Alternatives to Sex, The Object of My Affection, made into a film starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, The Man of the House, and True Enough, all available from Granta Books. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.