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[358] True Enough – Stephen McCauley

” It wasn’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but it was true enough to get through the important points across. After all, most people, shrinks indeed, were more comfortable with an edited version of reality and only the most profoundly masochistic individuals look at themselves without a shade over the bulb. ” [9:136]

True love is a blessing, but before one realizes how lucky to have found it, it can also be an embarrassing thing. The novel finds a man and a woman, who are, respectively, modestly well-established in life but at emotional crossroad of their relationships.

Jane Cody is a 40-year-old television producer who seems to be happily married to her second husband, a bland American literature professor at a small suburban college.

Jane had been comforted and warmed by Thomas’s big solid presence. He was everything Dale wasn’t, a large lovable man who lavished attention and tenderness on her, a man who didn’t hold back any of his emotions, a man who seemed to have built for loyalty and fidelity. [5:77]

But there’s an undercurrent. Thomas is the man she so eagerly wants to love, which isn’t necessarily the same as being the man she does love. Jane’s rebound marriage with Thomas loses its zest as her TV show loses its viewers. So she has an affair with her womanizng ex-husband, who is married to her best friend. Feeling the scruple of her double betrayal, Jane confides in with her shrink an edited version of her life, sans affair and fornication.

Sometimes Desmond worried about his own sexual restlessness. In his pre-Russell days, he’d found himself becoming ravenously promiscuous as soon as he started dating someone. Did it mean he was unable to commit to a relationship, incapable of dealing with intimacy… [6:94]

Desmond Sullivan has been living a monogamous cohabitation with Russell, his partner of five years. Stuck in a writer’s block, by accepting a temporary teaching job in Boston, he is hoping to get enough distance from his distracting happiness to finish his overdue biography of an obscure 60s female vocalist. Secretly he is pining for an emotional freedom with which he can lay claim to a larger portion of his own identity.

Love was a strange, exhausting bit of human business. Based on the evidence of literature, torch songs, and the tattered fragments of his own experience, Desmond had come to the conclusion that all the beauty and wonder of the thing was wrapped up in the longing for it and the hurt after its demise. [2:27]

While Jane and Desmond team up to work on a series of TV documentaries, they embark on a journey that, unexpectedly, enlightens them on the bliss of love, domesticity, and commitment. True Enough, with an exquisitely fine-edged satirical tone, is a story about love and lust, trust and betrayal, commitment and denial. Regardless of the sexual orientation, the book dissects the self-centered, shallow social artifice and snobbery of the American middle class, as it exposes Jane and Desmond’s biggest character flaw: they don’t realize how incredibly lucky and blessed they have been. The missing piece in life they have been looking for has always been there—they’re just avoiding it, refusing to sort through the issues that compromise truth and reduces relationship to just a don’t-ask-don’t-tell monogamy. As they find true love, the book really sinks the teeth in society as a whole and wrestles it down: Can we afford unedited truth?

313 pp. Hardback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

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2 Responses

  1. I think people need unedited truth…keeps us on the right path 😀

  2. […] [358] True Enough – Stephen McCauley […]

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