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Story of My Life
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Story of My Life

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  2,108 ratings  ·  132 reviews
In his breathlessly paced new novel Jay McInerney revisits the nocturnal New York of Bright Lights, Big City. Alison Poole, twenty going on 40,000, is a budding actress already fatally well versed in hopping the clubs, shopping Chanel falling in and out of lust, and abusing other people's credit cards. As Alison races toward emotional breakdown, McInerney gives us a hilari ...more
Published 1999 by Bloomsbury (first published 1988)
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Color Purple by Alice WalkerEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardWatchmen by Alan MooreBeloved by Toni Morrison
Best Books of the Decade: 1980's
253rd out of 1,032 books — 1,122 voters
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women behaving badly
12th out of 45 books — 69 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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christa
In August, it became national news that there was a Jay McInerney novel that I had somehow overlooked. I thought I had McInerney covered — I even read his winefesto Hedonist in the Cellar for the love of God — and here was a novel-novel, probably set in New York City in the ’80s, probably filled with a cast of coke fiend scenesters, and probably something I should have read years ago.

Story of my Life is written from the perspective of 20-year-old Alison Poole, a party girl and aspiring actress.
...more
Nicky
The story’s about this tough New York City party girl, and after the first few chapters, I go, Wow, this is surprisingly entertaining despite the fact that it’s written without a single quotation mark, which usually drives me insane. No one talks. Every “goes.” He goes, Hello. And then she goes, Hey. And then we go out to the club and snort lines the size of highway lane dividers and play really vicious games of Truth or Dare before sleeping with whoever happens to be sitting to our left. The ma ...more
thecrx
I'd like to hand out a copy of this book to every hipster in Williamsburg, so they can understand that they weren't the first people in the universe to discover ugly clothing and cocaine.
Tony
McInerney, Jay. STORY OF MY LIFE. (1988). ***. After the success of his earlier novel, “Bright Lights, Big City,” it was likely that his publishers would publish anything. This novel falls under the classification of “anything.” It is the story of Alison Poole, a twenty-year old woman who lives in New York and who spends her life hopping from party to party and shopping at Chanel. She also spends a lot of time falling in and out of lust and abusing her friends’ credit cards. She has never held a ...more
Sun
Alison Poole is a party girl come wannabe actress in New York. She's a cynic who's in touch with her inner child. She's got crazy friends and a dysfunctional family. This is her story.

McInerney achieves a power and a true voice and sustains it. Cutting insights and a deliriously good read.
Janarchy
Probably one of the least bullshitty books I've ever read. The main character is more Salinger than Salinger, both sincere and intensely jaded. This book is extremely re-readable.
Moira Russell
Much better than any of his other work, but this got no attention! One of the few male writers of the eighties who successfully wrote from a woman's point of view. And yet this is hardly known.


ETA Well, rather than actually dreaming up a character, apparently McInerney just transcribed the thoughts and sayings of his girlfriend at the time (he appears to have been the novel's slumming Dean) who went on to become Jonathan Edwards' babymama. That's....just so very disappointing. (I can't stand his
...more
TK421
For some unknown reason--actually the reason is known: I once read an article in a magazine where McInerney blasted a book/writer that I adored--a festering hate for Jay McInerney has been boiling up inside of me. Time to pop this wound and let the puss ooze.

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Okay. I can check McInerney off my bucket-list of authors to read.

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About three-fourths of the way through this novel, Allison Poole,
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Myles
Story of My Life is a funny, fast-paced read with a surface covered in the night life, fashionable lifestyles and references to the high-life of the 1980s. Beneath it all is the story of a confused girl trying to make sense of her life, love and why exactly her and her friends do what they do.

Alison Poole is a little selfish, admittedly undereducated and full of flaws but she is entirely honest and only occasionally flinches at telling the reader everything. I enjoyed reading the book and sympat
...more
Sharon
The back cover compares Jay McInerney's Alison Poole to Truman Capote's Holly Golightly. I can see the similarites, but I think McInerney's novel is better because he was able to do with words what only Hollywood was able to do to Capote's work - make an unlikeable character likeable. At the end of 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' you want to kick Holly's butt (at least I did), but at the end of 'Story of My Life' you wish that there was a phone number you could call to ask if Alison is alright. Alison ...more
Kecia
This was a fun read when I did read it (long before I decided to go to graduate school and learned how to pay better attention to things like plot, pace, voice).

I actually went to a reading when this book first came out and when he signed my book I felt the need to correct him on the Life magazine photo that's mentioned in the book (she's face-up, not face-down; makes all the difference). I don't think I've ever done that to any other author since but I was a 23-year-old nerd and this was IMPORT
...more
Chris
The majority of this book is a (semi?) fictionalized account of Rielle Hunter's sex life and drug addiction. It gets old after a while. The last two chapters, though, are great. Kind of sad. It redeemed the book for me.

If McInerney should get any praise for this novel, it's for his mastery of narrative technique. Even when the plot falls flat - the storyline with the drug dealer Mannie seemed entirely out of place - the narrative is so well formulated that you have to forgive it. It definitely m
...more
Ryan
This book is supposedly about Rielle Hunter (the current mistress of John Edwards), back when she was a party girl in 1980's New York, and her father murdered her prized racing horses for the insurance money, and she went by the name Lisa Dreck. Or something like that. The character's name is Allison Poole. Supposedly McInerney dated her briefly and was so appalled/fascinated with her and her friends, that he wrote this book, and made her the narrator. It's pretty funny; an amusing few hours' re ...more
Patrick
"I'm thinking of declaring myself a disaster area, you know, so I can get federal funds."

"Less Than Zero" meets "Sex and the City." The trials and tribulations of a privileged 1980's New York slut nearing her 21st birthday. Dark humor and cocaine abound. Quotation marks to denote dialogue are replaced with the words "...so I go.." and "...then he was like..." I bet "The Hills" would be a lot like this book if TV shows had a director's cut.
Amory
Great random 80s-ness in here: Reference to the Long Island garbage barge, Alysheba winning the Derby, and watching Johnny Carson, and, most spectacularly, the main character blackmailing her boyfriend for sex by ordering from the Saks Fifth Avenue catalog, including a description of making him, "Put the order form in an envelope and take it to the mailbox [!]" to make sure he was really going through with the order. ;-)

Those amusements aside the book was.. okay. I don't know if just the book is
...more
Esther
First JM book I've read and probably my last. I don't get the critical acclaim. Maybe you had to be there at the time reading this in the 80s..ooh how shocking, how zeitgeist-y all these pretty young materialistic things doing coke and having casual sex. All first person narrative, so it reads like a long dull conversation with Paris Hilton 'so like she was completely out of it.'
Snarky's
I have always adored this gem from McInerney and it's become a tad more delicious as it has been revealed its protag was inspired by John Edward's mistress.

She's in the attic indeed.
Karen
I come to review this and of course Angelina is here first--how?! HOW?! Anyway, I reread this book constantly and love it to wee pieces. 80's bad girl in the city...siiigggh.
Bryan Rountree
Little did I know that a year after I read the followup to McInerney's excellent Bright Lights, Big City I would discover that the inspiration for Alison Poole -- who had also formerly been McInerney's girlfriend -- had, in real life, worked her way up to an extramarital affair with a 2008 presidential candidate!

I am going to place my money on this just being a polished "stenography" job as McInerney followed around Rielle Hunter as she went about her daily life. What should have just been dismi
...more
Jeff Jackson
Contains the immortal first line: "I'm, like, I don't believe this shit." True enough.
Keith
Aug 29, 2011 Keith rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Jay McInerney writes about characters on on the verge of insanity. They grip what little sanity they have left by a frayed rope that no doubt will soon break. In Story of My Life that character is Alison Poole, a twenty-year-old debutante living in New York, and who hangs out with other twenty-year-old debutantes, all whose frayed ropes had already snapped. Alison's frayed rope, her grip on reality, is her fledging relationship with a bonds broker named Dean, but Dean seems more interested in li ...more
Cammie
This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. It's packed with rapier-sharp wit and hilarious misadventures, all delivered at breakneck speed. It's also a story of unexpected depth, despite the ridiculously shallow cast of characters and their asinine preoccupations.

There's nothing particularly profound about the people and the 80s New York lifestyle it satirises, and it's not a book that screams Literary with a capital L. But make no mistake, it's very finely written and full of acute obser
...more
Derek
Aug 20, 2008 Derek rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Geeta, though I imagine she's already read it
This book made me think of Geeta.

That sounds bad, I know. I'm not implying that Geeta was a self-obsessed blue blood who snorted her way into rehab after spending all of her family's money in the nightclubs of 1980s New York City. Much to the contrary. I guess I imagined her as the absent moral center to Story of My Life while I read it. I pictured her sneering at these ridiculous people from the dark wall of the nightclub, reflecting my own disapproval. And I suppose I did this for two reasons:
...more
Penny
So, in reading about the John Edwards scandal, I came across the information that Jay McInerney based his novel "Story of My Life" on his former girlfriend (and, it appears, Edward's former girlfriend) Rielle Hunter. I hadn't thought of this book in years, but I suddenly remembered that I gave a presentation on "Story of My Life" to a roomful of Hungarians when I first joined the Peace Corps in 1990. As part of our training in Pecs, we were expected to give presentations to the public -- good pr ...more
Kate
Aug 12, 2008 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who are obsessed with the 80s, labels whores
My dear friend Diana pointed out that "Reille Hunter" aka Lisa Druck, John Edward's baby mama or something like that, was the inspiration for this book's protagonist. I went through this complete 80s obsession in high school and started reading all of Jay McInerney's books that chronicle the coking and clubbing life of New York in the age of greed (I also dragged poor Diana to a Jay McInerney book signing in Paris when we were living there, where I got his autograph). This Book, like _Bright Lig ...more
Veronique
I read this book because of the positive review and for whatever reason, I thought the subject would be interesting. Big mistake. It felt to me that I was reading a book about Paris Hilton, and worse, written by Paris Hilton (it's narrated on a first person basis, gets old really quick) so lots of repetition, some funny episodes, but not enough to make the book interesting.
Do we need to read a book about party girls who spend their time taking drugs, having casual sex and shopping at the most e
...more
Doug
Jan 21, 2014 Doug added it
I guess this book was some kind of "fuck you" to an ex-girlfriend? And I can imagine McInerney listening to her talk, cribbing notes, and then regurgitating them into Story of My Life. I appreciate that, and I guess that's why Allison Poole character seems real enough, but I still can't shake the feeling that maybe this is just a bit too mean spirited. That, and I don't care for McInerney that much as a writer. Maybe he's gotten better in the almost 30 years since this book was written, but I do ...more
Katri
A depiction of New York in the '80s through the eyes of a decadent young woman? Bring it on. I was born in 1988, so the yuppees and literary brat packs weren't really a part of my toddler life, but I still find this book very intriguing (or maybe because of it!). I love Alison Poole because of her honesty. She is a mess, but at least she isn't pretentious. Her voice feels remarkably real, and the story absolutely sweeps you along! I'm also impressed how a man managed to write such an awesome pic ...more
Brendan
So...a couple weeks ago it occurred to me that within a week I could read all the works of Jay McInerney and so thus I should. If you read Bright Lights Big City and were like "I wonder what else people did in the 80s in Manhattan?" you would read this book. It's crazy that the girl he based this character on went on to be the John Edwards extramarital girl. I say this because I am writing a novel now based on a girl I know and I wondered if something poetic like that would happen. This book als ...more
Drew
A perfect sibling (sister) novel to Bright Lights Big City. It's funny, smart, fast, drug-fueled, introspective, somber, depressing, and ultimately the perfect sort of escapism for somebody like me. The people are terrible, the drugs are plentiful, the sex is always good (but could be better) and mostly? There's just the right amount of existential despair. And Alison Poole lived on my block, I think. Now, roll up that fifty, babe - we've got a few more parties to hit tonight...




A far more somber
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John Barrett McInerney Jr. is an American writer. His novels include Bright Lights, Big City, Ransom, Story of My Life, Brightness Falls, and The Last of the Savages. He edited The Penguin Book of New American Voices, wrote the screenplay for the 1988 film adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, and co-wrote the screenplay for the television film Gia, which starred Angelina Jolie. He is the wine co ...more
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Bright Lights, Big City Brightness Falls The Good Life The Last Of The Savages Model Behaviour

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“It's like, you can't trust anybody, and if somebody you know doesn't fuck you over it's just because the price of selling you down the river was never high enough.” 27 likes
“Great minds sink alike, right?” 16 likes
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