Bright Lights, Big City
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With the publication of Bright Lights, Big City in 1984, Jay McInerney became a literary sensation, heralded as the voice of a generation. The novel follows a young man, living in Manhattan as if he owned it, through nightclubs, fashion shows, editorial offices, and loft parties as he attempts to outstrip mortality and the recurring approach of dawn. With nothing but goodwill, controlled substances, and wit to sustain him in this anti-quest, he runs until he reaches his reckoning point, where he is forced to acknowledge loss and, possibly, to rediscover his better instincts. This remarkable novel of youth and New York remains one of the most beloved, imitated, and iconic novels in America.
window with the pigeons. You try to alleviate the terror by thinking how ridiculous her French braids look, like spinnakers on a tugboat. You suspect that deep down she enjoys this. She’s been looking forward to it for a long time. “Do you realize just how serious this is?” she demands. “You have endangered the reputation of this magazine. We have built a reputation for scrupulous accuracy with regard to matters of fact. Our readers depend on us for the truth.” You would like to say, Whoa!
rubber. You start north, holding a hand over your eyes. Trucks rumble up Hudson Street, bearing provisions into the sleeping city. You turn east. On Seventh Avenue an old woman with a hive of rollers on her head walks a German shepherd. The dog is rooting in the cracks of the sidewalk, but as you approach he stiffens into a pose of terrible alertness. The woman looks at you as if you were something that had just crawled out of the ocean trailing ooze and slime. An eager, tentative growl ripples
your desk. You resist the urge to jump out of the chair and run down the hall with your jacket pulled over your head. No comment. All day you have been stifling the memory of your drunken-commando raid on Clara’s office. You want to explain to Megan that it was a joke, you were drunk, it was Tad’s idea. It wasn’t really you, just a clownish alter ego over whom you have no control. You don’t do things like that. You’re not that kind of guy at all. If Alex were seriously hurt, though, Meg probably
“What is he, political?” Michael says. “No, just angry.” You walk down into the Lion’s Head, past all the framed dust jackets of all the writers who have ever gotten drunk here, heading for the back room where the lights are low. When you sit down, James, long-haired and black, jumps up on the table; the house cat. “I never really liked her much, to tell you the truth,” Michael says. “I thought she was fake. If I ever see her I’m going to rip her lungs out.” You introduce Michael to Karen,
The smell of bread recalls you to another morning. You arrived home from college after driving half the night; you just felt like coming home. When you walked in, the kitchen was steeped in this same aroma. Your mother asked what the occasion was, and you said a whim. You asked if she was baking. “Learning to draw inferences at college, are we,” you remember her asking. She said she had to find some way to keep herself busy now that her sons were taking off. You said that you hadn’t left, not