Bright Lights, Big City Paperback – 5 Feb 2007
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`A rambunctious, deadly funny novel that goes for the right mark -
the human heart' -- Raymond Carver
`McInerney earns his place in literary history with Bright Lights,
Big City, the comic morality tale' -- Guardian
`Probably the best book ever written about being young, about
doing drugs and about music' -- Tony Parsons, Daily Express
`The seminal novel of the 1980s'
-- New York Times
From the Publisher
Hailed as one of the classic New York novels of the 80s,
alongside Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, Slaves of New York by Tama
Janowitz and The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolff
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Top Customer Reviews
That line sets the tone for "Bright Lights, Big City." Jay McInerney's bestselling debut stands above other urban-angst novels of the time, which tended to go with shock value. Instead, McInerney experimented with second-person narratives and a vision of a fragmented, coke-dusted New York.
"You" are a young man living in New York, and wife Amanda has recently left you for a French photographer she met on a modelling shoot. Understandably you are depressed and unhappy, and the loss of Amanda haunts your moods, especially when her lawyer urges you to sue her for "sexual abandonment," even though you don't want a divorce.
By day, you work in the fact-checking department of a prestigious magazine, where your malignant boss is getting tired of you. By night, you halfheartedly prowl clubs with your pal Tad, doing drugs and meeting women you care nothing for. Will you be able to move past your problems and become happy again?
Consider that summary a little slice of what "Bright Lights, Big City" sounds like -- the reader is the main character, which allows the reader to slip into another's skin for a brief time. Second-person narratives are often annoying, but McInerney's style is so starkly compelling that the little narrative trick pays off.
The New York of "Bright Lights, Big City" is basically a big, glitzy, hollow place, but still strangely appealing. And McInerney adds splinters of reality here and there, like the tattooed girl and Coma Baby, which add to the gritty you-are-there feel of the novel itself.Read more ›
This novel has been woefully mischaracterised as an ode to the high-life 1980s, probably due to its ill-advised title. It's not American Psycho. It's not even about the rich; the protagonist works on a magazine, as a fact-checker. By no means does he live the high life. By no means is this a book "about being young, about doing drugs and about music", as the cover quote by Tony Parsons indicates with alarming inaccuracy. This is a book about a guy whose life has crumbled apart, and you navigate through a series of red herrings before at last you discover the real, and heartbreaking, reason.
It's Holden Caulfield for the 1980s.
More importantly than that is the fact that Jay McInerney is a fine writer, very probably a great writer and someone that anyone interested in American literature should read. This book is wonderful, dark, funny and pretty bleak, but most of all a delight to read.
The unnamed main character becomes the reader as the author uses the second person point of view, telling the story as "you" go to work and clubs, and jaunt around the city. "You" work for a magazine at which no one has ever been fired, and where old, burnt-out columnists maunder in the hallways (a satire of The New Yorker, perhaps). "Your" immediate assignment is to translate and fact-check an article about the French elections by a deadline that "you" cannot possibly meet.
Gradually, "your" story unfolds. Your marriage to Amanda, a fashion model from the Midwest, has collapsed after less than a year--you are devastated by her desertion, and you have told no one of your divorce. Your article for the magazine is a disaster. You avoid dealing with these issues and the death of your mother (more than a year ago) by creating a new reality for yourself through cocaine. The turning point of the action comes with the arrival of your brother Michael, who summons you back home for your mother's memorial service and the scattering of her ashes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I prefer Bret Easton Ellis's debut "Less Than Zero" to this. McInerney is always worth reading and there is some nice, colourful and edgy writing but I think he really found his... Read morePublished 16 months ago by keen reader
One of my favourite books ever written (I've read hundreds). If you like Fear Attraction by Mark Hume and books by Brett Easton Ellis, you will love this. Read morePublished 21 months ago by M. Hume
There are those books that everybody loves, but you just can't get into. Unfortunately Bright Lights, Big City was that kind of book for me. Read morePublished 22 months ago by marcia siebers
Some great moments but overall unconvincing and narrative tense fell short of expectation. I never felt that "I" was in the underbelly of the Manhattan drug-scene, but did... Read morePublished on 14 July 2014 by Book reviewer for the casual reader
Jay McInerney"s first book and his best. He goes downhill from here, slowly but downhill. He ends writing wine reviewsPublished on 15 Dec. 2013 by John Selwyn Jones