Bright Lights, Big City

Bright Lights, Big City

Book - 1984
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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.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, c1984.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780394726410
Branch Call Number: MCINERNE
Characteristics: 182 pages ; 21 cm.


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Aug 22, 2018

This really surprised me. I didn't go into it thinking I would like it, to be honest. It was written right around the time I was born, set around 30 miles from where I grew up. You might say there's a little bit of nostalgia at work here- I know all of the places the main character is talking about, from 5th Avenue to Bleecker Street, to the World Trade Center to Times Square. What really drew me in and made this interesting (besides the nostalgia factor) is the fact that this book is written in second person- something very rare and quite difficult to pull off. It's a little jarring at first. The main character has no name, and everything is 'you' and 'your'. We're tossed right into the thick of his life right from page one, high in a bathroom at 6am at some club in Manhattan. The book isn't long- less than 200 pages. We're watching part of an era- a slice of sub-culture of American life, and it's fascinating. The main character is making poor decisions, one after the other, and we're trapped in his downward spiral, all while getting an amazing look at mid-80's New York City life. Even with all the drug use ( and there's a lot) I still believe it's rather poignant, and has some salient moments: "Above Forty-second they sell women without clothes and below they sell clothes without women.", "The city's economy is made up of strange, subterranean circuits that are as mysterious to you as the grids of wire and pipe under the street.", "I wish people wouldn't waste their time being embarrassed." and, "Tad is always on his way, but he seldom arrives." There are many other descriptive jewels in here, and they alone are worth the read. Bright Lights, Big City is an interesting ride to be sure, but one I believe that's worth taking.

Aug 17, 2016

Funny, sad, compact and powerful.


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