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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Search For 'Brilliance'
'The hour I spent with Amanda made me yearn for something,' recalls Benjamin Braddock in 'My Public Service', one of the ten stories in Jay McInerney's successful first collection of short prose fiction. Amanda is a starlet who briefly canoodles with Benjamin on her way to a Senator's bed. Benjamin, part of the Senator's campaign team, wonders about his yearning. 'Not...
Published on 29 Oct. 2000

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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I read Brightness Falls a few years ago and found it thoroughly engrossing and I bought How It Ended purely on the basis of the McInerney 'brand'. However, whilst I am admittedly not a great fan of short stories, I found this collection to contain a few pieces of quality writing, but on the whole to be a disappointment. The stories are simply not particularly good and the...
Published on 7 Jan. 2001


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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Search For 'Brilliance', 29 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Hardcover)
'The hour I spent with Amanda made me yearn for something,' recalls Benjamin Braddock in 'My Public Service', one of the ten stories in Jay McInerney's successful first collection of short prose fiction. Amanda is a starlet who briefly canoodles with Benjamin on her way to a Senator's bed. Benjamin, part of the Senator's campaign team, wonders about his yearning. 'Not exactly beauty or sex or power,' he reflects. 'I can only call it brilliance, like a surfeit of life.' In *How It Ended* McInerney's protagonists search for 'brilliance', and each time it turns out to be a will-o'-the-wisp.
'Brilliance' takes different forms, but it is always to do with status, often to do with glamour and sometimes to do with ideals. The Senator gets the girl, not Benjamin, who later finds himself doing PR for a South American dictator whom he abhors. In 'Third Party' Alex goes to Paris to romantically act out his dejection, after having been dumped by his girlfriend in New York. He plays along when two glamorous Parisians seem to mistake him for someone of social distinction. Easily manipulated by them, he is told, finally, 'You're a nobody.'
McInerney is fascinated by the ways in which becoming a 'somebody' makes you a 'nobody.' Martin, a scriptwriter who plots his way to success in 'The Business', remarks that in Hollywood 'the story is always Faust.' One gets the impression that you don't get much in exchange for your soul. Jared, in 'Getting In Touch with Lonnie', is a successful actor. But one feels he might well be joining his wife, in an upmarket mental hospital, soon - especially since his much sought-after dealer is already there.
McInerney also focuses on the less glamorous, 'role-model' worlds of law and medicine. The narrator of the title story, 'How it Ended', imagines himself as a mentor when he meets a young lawyer. But when the other man relates his outlaw past the narrator feels that not only his profession but also he has been besmirched. McClarty, in 'Con Doctor', gets a thrill when the guards at the prison where he works refer to him as 'Doctor.' Yet he still feels like 'a pretender'. His job and beautiful wife and home are less real to him than his dreams of being attacked by inmates and his memories of drug addiction. Success is always fragile in McInerney's fiction.
These are pessimistic stories (the exception, perhaps, being 'The Queen and I'). But McInerney's trademark sharp humour, familiar to readers of *Bright Lights, Bright City* and *Story of My Life*, illuminates the collection. 'Reunion' provides a good example. The narrator's girlfriend, Tory, is asked by her born-again sister if she loves Jesus. 'Do I look like a necrophiliac to you?' she responds. Told that she might run but never hide from her saviour, Tory snaps: 'But can you get a restraining order, is what I want to know.'
We shouldn't be surprised that these are such well-crafted short stories. The author's virtues lend themselves to the short story form. Like his fellow American Nicholson-Baker, McInerney has always been at his best when concentrating on one character over a short period of time. For this reason, *Bright Lights, Big City* and *Story of My Life* work much better than the more ambitious *Brightness Falls.* Interestingly, Russell and Corrine from *Brightness Falls* appear in 'Smoke', one of the stories here. I don't know whether McInerney has re-worked a preliminary sketch for the novel or if he's plundered his old material. The result, though, is an elegantly constructed story that underlines the novel's structural flaws.
In a sense, these are rather old-fashioned short stories, with clear beginnings, middles and endings. One story ends with a death; 'Simple Gifts' and 'Reunion' end with moving epiphanies. The title story - really a story-within-a-story, in which one character relates to the narrator how he met his wife - is the most open-ended of the ten.
This collection proves McInerney to be far more than his reputation as a novelist of New York hedonism and high-life. Revealing 'the dark underbelly of the American dream' (to quote the dust jacket) might be as American as apple pie, but it must be said that Jay McInerney does it remarkably well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful literature, but the stories are a litte tired, 24 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Hardcover)
This is the first Jay McInerney book I have read in over a decade. His grasp of literature is without doubt superb and his style of writing contains so much depth. His work stands in marked contrast to so many of today's authors, who write stories with outrageous storylines, but little in the way of quality literature. The stories in this book are quiet, subtle tales, set mainly in 1980s Manhattan. As with all short tales, these leave you feeling like you have only heard half the story, and with more questions than answers. Perhaps the very fact that these stories represent a bygone time means that they appear somewhat tired and unoriginal. The title of the book is How It Ended and I cannot help wondering if this should also refer to the end of Jay McInerney's much-copied storytelling genre: Manhattan stories of yuppies and other freaks of the 1980s. It would be great to see his amazing story-telling qualities renewed for the new century, instead of just churning out re-runs from the old.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Hardcover)
I read Brightness Falls a few years ago and found it thoroughly engrossing and I bought How It Ended purely on the basis of the McInerney 'brand'. However, whilst I am admittedly not a great fan of short stories, I found this collection to contain a few pieces of quality writing, but on the whole to be a disappointment. The stories are simply not particularly good and the language does not manage to carry them in the way that, say, Oscar Wilde was able to do. Occasional flashes of McInerney's obvious talent do appear, but I sometimes found myself reading on simply because I believed that it had to get better. If you're a fan, read it, but don't expect it to live up to his previous work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant enough way to pass the time, 14 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Hardcover)
Jay McInerney's latest work, "How It Ended", is a collection of loosely related short-stories that bond against the book's title and overall theme.
Easy enough reading and some of the stuff will make you think, but nothing outstanding. McInerney seems to have lost his way since the late 80s, with his last effort, "Model Behaviour", while certainly not a bad book, it was effectively a "re-make" (re-write?) of "Bright Lights, Big City", his most famous work.
Still, if you like Jay's style, I'd recommend it. Short stories are never as satisfying as a novel but it's a reasonable effort.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable with a sense of purpose, 20 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Paperback)
McInerney is a writer of great reliability, amusing yet pointed, sad yet forthcoming; his first collection of short stories continues his obsession with contemporary America, his writing underpinned by a pathos that at times hints at Fitzgerald. And like Fitzgerald, McInerney possesses the great quality of being entirely submerged in a culture undone by anomie, whilst retaining the ability to analyse his subjects with objectivity. Moreover, he remains highly readable at all times. A writer defintely worth investigating.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different styles: choose the one(s) you like!, 28 Oct. 2001
By 
dwill95@btinternet.com (A Brit in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How it Ended (Paperback)
How it Ended is a book of short stories. Let me confess that I hadn't realised it was a book of short stories until I got to chapter 2. Part way through the first story, Third Party, I wondered what on earth had made me invest my hard earned cash in that.
Third Party reads like a novel written by an English Literature academic from one of our rarified Universities: someone who has read just about every type and style of book there is and who has developed a formula for writing the perfect novel. Of course, such a novel would fail badly, like the Ford Edsel car that failed because it was designed to be the perfectly acceptable car.
Anyway, having overcome the shock of Third Party, I hummed and hawed my way through the ten stories and really liked some of them and could have lived without others. Smoke was a good one: the story of two partners who come to a joint decision to stop smoking. The sub plot of the story concerns sex and it ends with a nice ironic twist.
I liked the way The Queen and I shaped up: a good story of down on their luck people, transvestites/cross dressers/prostitutes/pimps ... but I felt McInerney made a mess of the denouement: let him read this review and have another go at it! Still, the image of Randi,
'Wearing a leather mini and a red halter, Randi stands six foot eight in heels ...'
is something to ponder over, don't you think? Then we are treated to this:
'Randi stands ... beneath a sign that reads FRANKS SALAMI BOLOGNA LIVERWURST KNOCKWURST STEW MEATS & SKIRT STEAKS. Truth in advertising'
Reunion, the last story in the book, concerns at least some of the people who could have dreamed of writing Third Party. A family gets together yet remains apart at the same time. I liked this snippet:
Ginny puts the hot tray down on the counter. She takes off the oven mitt and lights a cigarette. 'You eat low cholesterol. You don't smoke. You don't drink. You don't swear, and you don't like it when other people do. Is there anything else I should know as your innkeeper? Would you maybe like some more hay in your manger?'
'Jesus loves you, Mom'
Jim, the born-gain husband, comes in, looking sleepy.
'Is that bacon I smell?' he says.
'I was going to do fishes and loaves,' Ginny says, 'but I could find a good recipe.'
Sums up at least some of the relationships pretty well!
As I was thinking about this review I was working on how I was going to say that I didn't like this book. As I have written this, though, I realised that I really liked the stories that I did like: about half of them. That's not bad, I suppose. The stories are presented in a variety of styles and I don't suppose many people liked all of them.
My one gripe? The stories I didn't like reminded me of a Neil Simon play: the kinds of stories and style that were made into second rate films in the 1950s and 1960s: screechy people and language, farcical coincidences, flat story lines, clever dick people ... not for me, thank you.
One final snippet. There is 'A note on the type' used in the printing and presentation of this book: it says
The text of this book is set in Berling roman, a modern face designed by KE Forsberg between 1951-58. In spite of its youth it does carry the characteristics of an old face. The serifs are inclined and blunt, and the g has a straight ear.
Now why did we need to know that and did you know that the letter g has an ear?...
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3.0 out of 5 stars it's not very good, 11 Aug. 2013
This review is from: How it Ended (Paperback)
when the stories aren't boring, they are cliched. I probably didn't understand it all. 'Smoke' is about the only good story.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather poor stuff, 29 Sept. 2008
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: How it Ended (Paperback)
I've enjoyed the couple of Jay McInerney novels that I've read, so was curious to see how he'd handle the limitations of a short story. Unfortunately, based on the evidence of this collection, he doesn't seem to have been able to transcend them. Although he's a good writer, I found these pieces to be very slight and unmemorable. In spite of his attempts to give his characters dramatic life (the transsexual prostitute, the drug-taking rock singer, the philandering senator's aide, etc), none of them really came to life for me. The story I liked most was "Smoke", which revisits Corrine and Russell Calloway (originally from his Brightness Falls, and to appear later on in The Good Life - though here their surname is unaccountably changed to Callahan) as they try and give up smoking. Not a lot happens, but at least the characters feel more like real people, rather than the one-dimensional sketches which populate the rest of this disappointing collection.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cheever this isn't, 31 Dec. 2010
By 
B Moraes (Devon) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: How it Ended (Paperback)
These stories really are crumbs off the McInerney table. His attempt to create a Cheever/Fitzgerald landscape of empty, decadent, American lives full of ennui just isn't sucessful. Instead the boredom is just in the reading. Stick to the novels.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: How it Ended (Hardcover)
I read Brightness Falls a few years ago and found it thoroughly engrossing and I bought How It Ended purely on the basis of the McInerney 'brand'. However, whilst I am admittedly not a great fan of short stories, I found this collection to contain a few pieces of quality writing, but on the whole to be a disappointment. The stories are simply not particularly good and the language does not manage to carry them in the way that, say, Oscar Wilde was able to do. Occasional flashes of McInerney's obvious talent do appear, but I sometimes found myself reading on simply because I believed that it had to get better. If you're a fan, read it, but don't expect it to live up to his previous work.
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How it Ended
How it Ended by Jay McInerney (Hardcover - 18 Sept. 2000)
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