Picks and Pans Review: The Object of My Affection

updated 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/11/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Stephen McCauley

They come at you like zany neighbors in a TV sitcom, but the characters in this joyously comic story have sense and depth. George Mullen, the narrator, is looking for some "unqualified affection," so he works with kids in an exclusive kindergarten on Manhattan's Upper East Side. George is 26, gay and emotionally stuck between diffidence and commitment. When a romance falters he leaves his lover and moves to Nina Borowski's spacious but unrenovated Brooklyn walk-up. A struggling psychology student surviving on coffee and garlic, Nina is the perfect roommate. "Our friendship," says George, "is a long and unconsummated courtship between two people with no expectations." Not as unconsummated, however, is Nina's relationship with an exasperating legal aid attorney named Howard. He is lovable but frumpy as father material. For that reason, when Nina discovers she is pregnant, she asks George to help her raise the baby. While its offbeat scenarios and smart characters are distinctly modern, this tale pursues such steadfast ideas as family and friendship (not to mention love and lust). McCauley tosses them around with wit and drags them under with irony, then he allows them to surface changed yet intact. A columnist for the Boston Phoenix, McCauley has written a superb first novel, one that shimmers with hope, humor and compassion. (Simon & Schuster, $17.95)

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