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Story of My Life

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  2,693 Ratings  ·  155 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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Glenn Russell
Jan 03, 2016 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Published originally as part of the American Vintage Contemporaries series, Jay McInerney’s high octane novel is written from the point of view of a young woman, specifically 21-year old Alison Poole, a rich gorgeous aspiring actress living the cocaine-fueled revved-up life in 1980s Manhattan, a gal who tells her friends how after meeting and spending a night in bed with Dean, her new boyfriend, she is totally in lust. Her friends demand details: length and width.

Every page offers pe
Glenn Sumi
Apr 08, 2017 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, like, first off, a confession: I don’t read a lot of stuff.

Like maybe magazines at the doctor’s office or while working out on the elliptical, or Facebook and Twitter posts and of course Instagram (I love using their awesome filters!) and Snapchat. But books? Sigh. Life is too short, ya know? I want to LIVE life, not READ about it.

But somehow this book grabbed my attention. It’s about Alison Poole, a 20-year-old woman living a fabulous existence in late 1980s Manhattan. This is long before
Jun 08, 2009 thecrx rated it liked it
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.
Oct 05, 2008 christa rated it liked it
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.
Oct 23, 2011 Nicky rated it liked it
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
May 18, 2007 Janarchy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-ever
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.
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
Mar 31, 2009 Sharon rated it really liked it
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
Mar 18, 2008 Sun rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Oct 21, 2011 TK421 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
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.

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

About three-fourths of the way through this novel, Allison Poole,
Meh, a really juicy tale, but not my favorite work of literature.
I think it was good writing, not great, but just good. I know that I ventured in knowing exactly what it was and there were no surprises, it was exactly as expected. I felt cheap and hungover afterwards, blah.
Basically its a short glimpse into an exaggerated tale of my own early drunken 2o's past of regrets (minus the coke details, never got into it)
There were no tricks or plot twists, this was a plainly written story about sexua
Mar 03, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 07, 2007 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 15, 2017 L. rated it really liked it
żyję po to, żeby odkrywać i czytać takich pisarzy jak jay mcinerney.
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
May 24, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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
Dec 18, 2008 Kecia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 03, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
"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 " 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.
Nov 02, 2009 Esther rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.'
May 31, 2007 AE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jeff Jackson
Sep 21, 2009 Jeff Jackson rated it did not like it
Contains the immortal first line: "I'm, like, I don't believe this shit." True enough.
Kayla Kiernan
I'm guessing that it's largely due to of my age (F, 20) that I was a little taken aback by the way McInerney portrays this girl Alison Poole. But considering that she is supposed to be a caricature of the vapid and 'free-spirited' girls the author dated in the late '80's, it perhaps shouldn't be a surprise that she comes across as a detestable human person who is also hilarious in spite of herself. The narrative voice is impressive and, for me at least, is the most frequent supplier of the kicks ...more
Lisbeth Solberg
1980s Tropic of Cancer/Catcher in the Rye. Lice everywhere? Cocaine everywhere. Little Shirley Beans record? Grandma's pearl necklace. Male POV? Female POV.

Alison antihero seeks family-funded therapy promising slim hope for the future.
Mar 07, 2017 Marie rated it liked it
I would have really liked this in the Gossip Girl-watching era of my life.
Aug 18, 2008 Derek rated it liked it  ·  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:
Aug 07, 2011 Keith rated it liked it  ·  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
Aug 16, 2008 Penny rated it it was ok
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
Aug 21, 2011 Cammie rated it it was amazing
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
Eric Kirkman
Sep 27, 2015 Eric Kirkman rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Story of my Life centers around the protagonist, Allison Poole, a 20 year-old trust fund baby who essentially does three things, takes acting lessons, does cocaine with friends, and sleeps with half of manhattan. The plot is essentially the aforementioned three items with a fair amount of opining.

The good: Mcinerney really is a talented writer, and the prosse jumps off the page and instantly forges a connection between the reader and protagonist.

The bad: Unlike Bright Lights, Big City and Ransom
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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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“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.” 30 likes
“Great minds sink alike, right?” 17 likes
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