William Collins, a Boston realtor, has known for some time that his habits are slipping out of control, but "I figured that as long as I acknowledged my behaviour was a problem, it wasn't one". He finally decides to do something about his compulsive cleaning binges, his lacklustre sales figures, and his penchant for nightly anonymous online sex, but he needs a role model for calm stability. Enter Charlotte O'Malley and Samuel Thompson, wealthy suburbanites looking for the perfect apartment in the city. 'Happy couple' William writes in his notes. "Maybe I can learn something from them". But what William learns challenges his own assumptions about love, real estate and desire. And what they learn from him just might unravel a budding friendship, not to mention a very promising sale. Stephen McCauley's new novel is a cunningly spun chronicle of life in post-traumatic, morally ambiguous America, where the heartfelt desire to do good is constantly tripped up by the need to feel good.