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Spoiled by Caitlin Macy
Paperback $19.00
Aug 03, 2010 | ISBN 9780812971729

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  • Aug 03, 2010 | ISBN 9780812971729

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  • Mar 03, 2009 | ISBN 9781588367921

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“I was completely captivated by these keenly observed, superbly written stories. Caitlin Macy’s characters are educated, strong-willed, and sometimes difficult girls and women who alternate, as all of us do, between lying to themselves and facing the truth. Macy’s depiction of them, set against a very contemporary backdrop of class, gender, urbanism, and ambition, is so entertaining that it’s easy to overlook how well-crafted this collection is. I’m hugely impressed and plan to recommend Spoiled to all my friends.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife

“Who else today writes so accurately about the impossibilities of privilege as Caitlin Macy? Packed with real wit and genuine rage, Spoiled is a gin-flavored litmus test, a social X ray set on stun, a grand entertainment, an argument starter. These deft morality tales grip us like the best gossip–then jolt us into feeling.”—Ed Park, author of Personal Days

“Macy is a writer [Edith] Wharton might well approve of . . . Her prose is tidy, assured, and graceful, and its restraint lends this book an old-fashioned clarity and confidence . . . In the end, these stories aren’t about money so much as they are about wanting, be it naked or sublimated, and about the distance between anxious women and their resolutely logical, maddeningly literal-minded men—and that’s what transmutes this book into an enjoyable read even for those of us who will never use the word summer as a verb.”—Elle

“An impressive, psychologically nuanced collection of stories on class and gender in New York . . . Sophisticated and intelligent, Macy offers the kind of subtlety that turns the ordinary into the sublime.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred

Superb . . . Issues of class and femininity are woven throughout many of these tales, and often make for interesting perceptions and sly conclusions.”—Booklist

Rewarding . . . Macy is especially adept at slyly pointing out the absurdities inherent in a social set where renting a summerhouse is a source of shame.”—Publishers Weekly

“This eloquent collection illuminates subtle class distinctions and lends insight into lives fraught with self-inflicted vulnerabilities . . . Spending time in Macy’s world is like tasting your first caviar: more potent than you expect, and yet you want more.”—People, four stars

“Husbands, wives, nannies and children orbit one another in the cold moral vacuum of the uptown Manhattan. Caitlin Macy’s stories dissect the lives of the rich and miserable with tender but surgical precision. This is what happens to gossip girls 20 years down the line.”—Time

“Wickedly smart, unwittingly timely…[Macy] attains a wonderfully transgressive Cheever-like honesty.”—Vogue

“Wise and cryptic…Intriguing…Sharply insightful.”—New York Times

“Extremely entertaining.”—Los Angeles Times

“Jaggedly funny…Macy can locate class anxiety in a single word…Fascinating…At a time when it’s become almost déclassé to trumpet the spoils of wealth, it’s good to be reminded in such minute detail what they are.”—Bloomberg

“[Macy] has an aptitude for anthropological apprehension, that dark, pith-helmet-wearer’s art of classifying people by their habits and social markers.”—New York Times

“Laser-sharp…probes the heartbreak of high expectations, the self-hatred that can go hand and hand with a ferocious sense of entitlement. Read it and squirm.”—O Magazine

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Caitlin Macy

Random House Reader’s Circle: Each of the stories in Spoiled is wonderfully unique, yet there are similar themes running throughout the collection. How did you decide on the subject matter for these stories? Why did you choose to write about what might be perceived as a certain type of woman?

Caitlin Macy: I started writing the stories and the unifying theme came later. An editor of mine at Random House came up with the title for the story “Spoiled.” At that point I had written about half of the stories in the book and I thought, Aha, that’s what this book is about.

RHRC: In many of the stories, you show women and girls behaving badly—acting spoiled. Are we supposed to empathize with them?

CM: Not necessarily! I do care about all of my characters no matter how repellent their behavior, I suppose because I feel that they’re ultimately suffering also. Many of them are trapped emotionally and psychologically if not logistically. That doesn’t excuse their behavior of course, but for me, it mitigates it a bit. People act out when they are anxious and unhappy.

RHRC: Do you relate to any of the women in particular? Are any of them based on people you know?

CM: I definitely relate to the younger sister in “Bait and Switch,” as I’m a younger sister myself. I also empathize with the thirty – something lawyer in “The Secret Vote.” The anxieties of contemporary life for my generation are manifold; any decision that represents a break with one’s family can be agonizing. None of the characters map directly to friends of mine though I certainly use details from acquaintances’ lives, from conversations I’ve overheard in the park, from gossip in Starbucks.

RHRC: Your last book, The Fundamentals of Play, was a novel. Which do you prefer, short stories or novels? And how is the writing process different for each?

CM: I think I’m more naturally a novelist and I find the longer form friendlier; it’s more forgiving to a writer—one can wax on a bit about things, one doesn’t have to have to write quite as tightly as one does in a story. With a story, I really have to have a sense of where it’s going right from the beginning and how it’s going to get there. It’s a challenging form: like making up a riddle or a joke, there’s very little room for digression.

RHRC: Who are some of your literary influences? And do you see this book as part of a certain tradition of books that explore wealth and class?

My first book was heavily influenced by The Great Gatsby, which I reread a thousand times. Nowadays I read a lot of contemporary women writers: Alice Munro, Nadine Gordimer, Tessa Hadley, Rachel Cusk. I’m happy to be included in the tradition of people who write about class. On the other hand, I am fascinated by class not as a study in and of itself but as a particularly illuminating lens through which one can explore the emotional drives of one’s characters.

RHRC: We’d love to know what you’re working on now. Is it something in the same vein as Spoiled?

It’s a bit of a departure! I just finished a screenplay, a romantic comedy. Beyond the love interest there is a central relationship between the heroine and a female friend of hers—a bad friend actually—so I’m still exploring women’s relationships.

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