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The Good Life

(The Calloway Trilogy #2)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  2,983 ratings  ·  287 reviews
In The Good Life, Jay McInerney unveils a story of love, family, conflicting desires, and catastrophic loss in his most powerfully searing work thus far.

Clinging to a semi-precarious existence in TriBeCa, Corrine and Russell Calloway have survived a separation and are wonderstruck by young twins whose provenance is nothing less than miraculous. Several miles uptown and pe
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 31st 2006 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,983 ratings  ·  287 reviews

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B the BookAddict
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Recommended Reading
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Goodreads

All the low ‘starred’ reviews of this novel that feature first on Goodreads have agitated me to the point that I cannot properly formulate my own full review.

I can tell you this: I read this novel and felt achingly sad when it ended, not for the story’s end but because I’d finished the novel. I roamed the house unable to settle with a new novel and finally gave up. Picked up The Good Life again and started to re-read it. Yes, I read the book, and then read it again, straight away! I think that m
Glenn Sumi
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Like his obvious influence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jay McInerney has always been an astute social chronicler. His previous novels, one about the coke-filled club scene of the early 80s, for example, and another about the post-boom stock market mini-crash, seem almost trivial next to the loaded setting of The Good Life: the day before and the months after September 11, 2001.

The story centres on two contrasting couples, familiar from some of McInerney's earlier fiction. Gracefully aging hipsters Cor
Rebecca McNutt
Evocative and totally unforgettable, The Good Life is a book capturing the light in the darkness of a horrible disaster.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
So, I've got this little disorder. Just this one: Once I begin reading a book, I am compelled to finish it. Regardless of how much I dislike it, I continue to pick up the book... continue to read.

After finishing Brett Easton Ellis' excellent Lunar Park (see previous post), I wanted to read something by Jay Mcinerny. Jay is a character in Lunar Park and is best known for his breakthrough novel Bright Lights, Big City. Not sure what posessed me, but rather than going for the easy bet and reading B
Ted Burke
May 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Jay McInerney, Brat Pack novelist, Manhattanite extraordinaire and famed party goer, got the urge to step up to the plate and write a Great American Novel, a work that would raise him finally from the middle rungs of the literary ladder and allow him to reach the top shelf where only the best scribes--Hemingway! Fitzgerald! Thomas Wolfe!-- sit and cast their long collective shadow over the fields of aspiring geniuses, furious scribblers all. McInerney has selected a large subject with which to m ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was chock-full of McInerney's self-important bullshit. All names and brandnames. Hated the two main characters and felt gross after I read it.
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
One of the book Felix recommends to Diane on her trip to Ireland... Happy People Read and Drink Coffee brought me here.
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shallow and gossipy people
It was trite fast reading.
You never really care that much for the characters and they all seem pretty miserable.
And then using the Sept. 11 disaster as a reason to launch into an affair is just kind of a cliche.
Rachel Louise Atkin
I guess I expected a lot more from this novel, and who can blame me after reading Bright Lights, Big City? I read this because I’m interested in post-9/11 fiction and whilst this book deals with this as an event, the real focus of this novel is the characters and their relationships. Whilst that was fun to read about, I don’t really enjoy domestic dramas especially in the time period it was set in.
I was underwhelmed by this simply because I expected it was going to be something else. But McInern
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Life in TriBeCa in the late summer and early fall of 2001 seems precarious to Corrine and Russell Calloway, whose marriage may be on the skids.

Corrine has returned to her career, while still juggling motherhood and other commitments; Russell seems detached and distant, arousing all of the suspicions that have accompanied the two of them since their separation a few years previously.

"When she had yearned to be a mother, imagining what it would be like to be a parent, it had been easy to conjure t
Emi Bevacqua
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Lightweight novel about adultery in upscale America, where no character is sympathetic (well, maybe the six-year old twins) and everybody including the author's cynicism is off-putting. Corinne and Russell Calloway have twins and imagine themselves to be middle class; upper echelon Luke and Sasha have a teen aged daughter, and the not so meet-cute is set amid 9-11 aftermath when Corinne bumps into ash covered Luke and their love, lust and desire threaten to obliterate both their marriages - whic ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of realistic, character driven novels
As a New York writer, McInerny attempts his obligatory 9/11 novel. I have never read any of his other works, but here he rerpises some characters from an earlier, more famous work. His sense of place is strong: This story takes place between New York and Nashville (the latter only in the last few chapters), two places I happen to know well, and he captures the locations well. His writing is graceful, and overall the book was pleasurable to read. The main drawback is thematic. A "9/11 Novel" shou ...more
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: goodfiction
This book was recommended to me because of my love for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The Good Life is about love, loss, self discovery post 9/11. Just like ELIC, the focus is not on 9/11 but the characters are dealing with the magnitude of the event.

However, unlike ELIC, I did not fall in love with the characters. They were almost too flawed and too complex. Lots of extra storylines that were unnecessary but probably included to fully develop the flawed nature of the characters. At times,
Nov 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really, really loved this book. A far cry from Bright Lights, Big City in writing style, this is a warm and moving story against the backdrop of 9/11. Together with The Emperor's Children, this is the best novel that came in the post-9/11 flow.
Erik Raschke
Mar 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
I've always like Jay McInerney and Bright Lights Big City was an incentive to move to NYC. However, I only read three chapters of this and couldn't read anymore.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. My first reaction was, "why are there so many bad reviews of this book on goodreads?" Then, I thought how there are so many times that books are given rave reviews by so many people and I end up hating them and there are times when there are books everyone hates and I love them.
That is the beauty with books...there are books out there for everyone...some books speak to certain people and they don't speak to others.

There is nothing super exciting about the jus
Sep 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The quote from the Times on the cover of this book says that it has more sympathy and depth than McInerney's other fiction. I think that's right - but most importantly, it has more heart. If Bright Lights, Big City is a fast paced, emotionally removed ride through 80's New York City, this is its older, wiser cousin, with its close up view of the lives of New Yorkers post-9/11. McInerney gets at New York in a real way in this novel, and so for that reason the book is a pleasure (especially as som ...more
Claudia Putnam
Didn't mean to get the abridged version--was getting ready for a trip and just grabbed all the literary stuff I could find off the library's shelves. Pickings were slim. Anyway, the writing was fine, and the characters convincing and all that, but jeez. 9/11 happens and a bunch of unhappily married couples can only think of what they can do to ramp up their happiness? I mean, it's good that they now want *genuine* happiness, and funnily enough the badder people among them want to come home to th ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: New Yorkers
Having been in NYC the morning of September 11th this book brought back so many memories both good and bad of that day. the collective terror and sheer panic. Although I enjoyed the book, had I really known it had all of the Sept. 11th references I am not sure I would have picked it up. Coincidentially, his book "Bright Lights, Big City" was a big part of the reason I wanted to move to NYC after college. I think the book captured the NYC scene really like only an insider could. There were some m ...more
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm unbelievably grateful this book is over. I know the man was a genius at one time, but here he is truly an embarrassing relic, that obnoxious guy at the party trying to impress you with every uninteresting word he knows as you die inside and scan the crowd for a better conversation to escape to. The dialogue was unbearable, the character names were laughably bad, and the sex scenes were so cringeworthy. Maybe the editor was blinded by his greatness but someone seriously dropped the ball here ...more
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Ambitious book about spoiled, unfaithful couples who feel guilty about their privileged, ego-driven lives after 9/11. Some parts of the unflinching dialogue and prose concerning 9/11 was really solid. The rest of it felt like SAT practice for the erudite McInerney and his stellar vocabulary. The characters, with the possible exceptions of Luke and Corrine, came across as whiny, indulged brats. I'd listened to the audio book and was not sorry when it was over, though I didn't feel like I'd wasted ...more
Edijkelly Salvatore
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
The return of the Calloways, stars of Brightness Falls. Interestingly, though BF is set in the '80s and TGL is set in '01/'02, only a few years have actually passed in the lives of the characters. Sadly, it's not nearly as good as the first. The characters are less compelling, you care less what happens to them. However, taken as a reaction to the 9/11 attacks and read solely on that emotional level, it can be rewarding.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A powerful novel of the shaken lives of upper class New Yorkers in the 9/11 aftermath. The characters lurch forward in their lives, wondering what the world means now. The horrific fire of terrorist attack on NYC simultaneously blinds and enlightens them, with widely varying effects. McInerney knows his setting and his characters so well, and the conclusion of the novel is wonderfully, achingly Whartonesque. 5 stars.
A pretty good read and the author has a nice way with words. The ending was disappointing: after all that the characters had been through, against the backdrop of 9/11, they chose not to take a chance on new lives, except for the 14-year-old daughter who chose to live with her grandmother in rural Tennessee. The others chose to remain in unhappy and unloving marriages.
May 13, 2009 rated it liked it
I can't quite decide how I feel about this book. I thought some of the characters were well developed, some just types. I also thought he did a good job presenting how 9/11 was ever-present in everyone's minds at the time but started to take a back seat to one's own problems from time to time once the immediate horror faded. Nicely written but it left me feeling a little cold.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it liked it

What makes life good to you? money?love?friendship?God?
It takes one event for Corrine Callaway and Luke McGavok to question everything 'good' in their lives: is it really all good or have they become happily complacent?... read more:
Dec 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
I actually liked the book in the beginning. But there were a growing number of developments that really bothered me. Most of all the fact that the moral of the novel is, that it's important to stay with your reping husband "for the childrens sake". To keep tha holy entity of family intact. WTF?!

Dianne Oliver
Dec 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: rubbish
Post 9-11, midlife crisis, modern. outside my box for a reason. just checking. yep, still not interested.
side note(I also made a go of a current Ya book that looked interesting re: walden pond. What horrid dribble they are feeding the youth market, which, I suppose makes this palatable for adults)
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The actual 9/11 descriptions were engaging, but once the book turned to character development and love story, I felt it fell flat. I found it really hard to care about any of the characters and the interpersonal dynamics felt overly self-congratulatory and forced. Meh.
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
The majority of this novel is incredibly well-written, bringing you into the lives of New Yorkers and feeling with them a full-spectrum of intense emotions as they move forward from the 9/11 attacks. Yet it dissolves a bit towards the end, with a surprisingly disappointing closing scene.
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2017 Reading Chal...: The Good Life by Jay McInerney 1 6 Aug 28, 2016 07:30AM  

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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

Other books in the series

The Calloway Trilogy (3 books)
  • Brightness Falls (The Calloway Trilogy, #1)
  • Bright, Precious Days

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