A while ago I realized I was slowly buying and re-reading all the books I loved as a teenager and young adult.
When I remember a book, I buy it and am slowly re-stocking my library with books I loved during those formative years.
Last night I finished Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley. I enjoyed it. I had to laugh at Teenage Shannon though. Why this book in particular? What drew me to it in the first place? Why did I read it five or so times at the age of 16? How odd and endearing.
The story is about narrator George Mullen, who is gay and lives in Brooklyn with his closest friend, Nina. When Nina becomes pregnant and decides to keep and raise the baby, she asks George to raise the baby with her.
The narrative becomes a peculiar will-they-won’t-they, but not between two lovers, as we’re generally used to. Instead, we follow the friendship between two people who are wholly devoted to one another, but must navigate a huge change ushered in by circumstance.
I love the character of George. He’s just so relatable. He has fears about being underemployed, for one thing. He’s a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Manhattan and he gets criticized for this even though he’s clearly good at his job.
McCauley excels at writing dialogue and I particularly enjoyed George’s conversations with his little student Doran Dunne, whose parents are battling through a divorce and constantly fighting over him. At one point, George loses his temper with Doran, then apologizes (Daniel and Theodora are Doran’s parents):
I also enjoyed the tight focus on the main characters. There’s George and Nina, of course, but also Nina’s boyfriend Howard and George’s coworker, Melissa.
Howard is a wonderful character. He’s a big personality, a take-charge legal aid attorney, who is deeply in love with Nina and has hilarious nicknames for her “She’s a Dumpling!” he declares to George at one point, crying on the couch after Nina begins to push him away.
All in all, I wonder if it’s the unique characters and Brooklyn setting that captured the attention of Teenage Shannon. I’m going with that.
I’m leaving out whole parts/themes of the book in this review, like George’s love life, but maybe you’ll want to discover those for yourself. I recommend it and am glad I re-read it. Good find, Teenage Shannon.