Steve's Reviews > Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
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Aug 06, 2011

really liked it

If Jay McInerney and Brett Easton Ellis are brothers in prose, then McInerney is definitely the quieter one, less interested in chainsawing you to pieces, and more interested in just being your friend.

"You" being the key word here, as McInerney's debut novel is told exclusively in the second person point of view (You do this. You do that. You find yourself in a bathroom stall, snorting Bolivian marching powder with a green-haired punk/model, etc, etc). But the POV never gets old, or comes off gimmicky because, lucky for the reader, McInerney becomes more and more comfortable with his voice, his talents, and the greater story at hand as it marches forward. Typical, I think, for debut novels, and this one shines.

Unlike Ellis--and perhaps McInerney's later work--the prose here is tight, the sentences clipped and damn near minimal (which might explain why Senor Carver himself, Grandmaster Overlord of All Things Minimal, gives a blurb on the front cover of this edition), and while the dialogue/interactions between characters can't decide whether it wants to be completely vapid or profoundly subtle, it's interesting to see a writer becoming comfortable in his own skin as you turn each page.

Though the last three chapters throw a bit of a curveball the reader's way (nothing like the ol' 'C' word to shed light on everything, break those psychological dams and wrap it all up), it's the day-to-day life of our aspiring/failed writer getting fired, getting wasted, getting chased, getting high against New York City's club-thumping backdrop that make this novel worthwhile. It's an oddly sweet story with a sweet, ne'er do well main character who does want to make good with his life and relationships.

So remember: McInerney doesn't want to hurt you. He wants to love you. And then do a shit ton of coke with you. And then live happily ever after.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Keija (new)

Keija Awesome review, Steve-o :) I agree!


Steve Thanks, Keija! Yeah, it was a weird read. I'm using it his year for a prose class I'm teaching because I thought it'd be one of those "cool" books. Yup. I'm that teacher.


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