Model Behaviour is a comic novel to show the rest how it's done - as cleverly witty as you always hoped Stephen Fry's fiction was going to be, but anchored to a firm intelligence and interest in people. As a comedy set in the world of American modelling and media, it bears comparison obviously to Bret Easton Ellis's Glamorama, but it's far more finely tuned than that book, a laser beam to Ellis's controlled explosion. It's more comprehensible as well, and fits its entire length into as many words as Ellis used in the first section of Glamorama alone... Otherwise it's interesting to note the two writers' different approaches to the fictional world of celebrity. Ellis is a writer fascinated by its glamour and disguises this by having a dumb-ass male model who is supposed to be a satirical figure but actually illuminates Ellis' unironic love of it all. McInerney conversely shows his genuine disdain with a narrator who believes himself "above it all" but really secretly doesn't want out.
Anyway Model Behaviour is narrated by Connor McKnight, a jobbing hack for CiaoBella! magazine. He is going out with a model, Philomena, who suddenly doesn't come home one day. Despite his easy way with all the modern world's instant communication tools, he cannot get in touch with her. Meanwhile he is receiving increasingly scary emails from an obsessive fan of his journalism. He is trying to keep his job by getting an interview with the latest Hollywood heartthrob; he is worried about his brainiac anorexic sister; and his best friend has a book coming out and is worried about the reviews. If it all sounds painfully incestuous and inward-looking, don't be put off. McInerney has a few surprises in store, a genuinely engaging protagonist, and one of those effortless styles that we're always being told is as hard to write as it is easy to read. I believe them. Model Behaviour is a small masterpiece.