Bright Lights, Big City

Paperback | August 12, 1984

byJay McInerney

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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.

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From Our Editors

Jay McInerney burst on to the literary scene with Bright Lights, Big City. This best-selling modern masterpiece follows a Manhattan yuppie who seems to have it all: a successful model for a wife, a job at a prestigious magazine, and plenty of wild friends. But the lights go out, and in one week his life takes a drastic plunge downward. McInerney is also the author of Model Behavior.

From the Publisher

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 substance...

From the Jacket

The tragicomedy of a young man in NYC, struggling with the reality of his mother's death, alienation and the seductive pull of drugs.

Jay McInerney was born in 1955 in Hartford, Conn. and earned his B.A from Williams College in 1976. He did postgraduate study at Syracuse University, and was a Princeton in Asia fellow in 1977. McInerney's career includes stints as a newspaper reporter, a textbook editor, and a fact checker for the New Yorker magazine. His writing has appeared in a variety of periodicals including Paris Review, Vogue, and Atlantic Mo...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.98 × 5.17 × 0.53 inPublished:August 12, 1984Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0394726413

ISBN - 13:9780394726410

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Crazy 80s If you are seduced by stories taking place in the ‘crazy’ 80s this book won’t disappoint. The setting is comparable to a more sane version of that in American Psycho. Hedonism and excess are almost a constant in the story. It is easy to see McInerney’s place in the ‘literary brat pack’. At its heart Bright Lights, Big City is a break-up story. The narrator searches for any outlet to get over his ex, to the point of repeatedly visiting a mannequin that is based on her likeness. It deals with the powerful seduction that fame can have on some people even those that are aware and critical of it. I didn’t find the second person narrative distracting, it takes some getting used to but it is achieved with ease. The book isn’t solemn, there are quite a few opportunities where it shows its sense of humor. Bright Lights, Big City may feel like a familiar story because so many similar stories have been produced since but it has a feel and uniqueness that the others don’t. Check out my first published work Defenseless
Date published: 2012-07-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read "You'd gladly sleep through the intervening years and wake up when this part is over." Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney is just what I needed. It is a great book, and reminded me why I love to read. I guess I was feeling more bogged down (by my reading challenge) than I realized. It is a quick read, but full of emotion and absolutely great characters. Awesome, real characters. The story centres around a twenty-four-year-old urbanite, whose wife left him a few months back and his life is spinning out of control due to cocaine and alcohol; but also because he is just feeling lost. He doesn't want to live the way he is; he's looking for a way out. But sometimes, you have to travel to places you never imagined you would be, in order to become the person you want to be. It is written in a really unique style ... like the narrator is telling the story, of himself, to himself. Maybe his way of stepping outside his own life and observing what he sees, while still understanding the motivation behind the behaviour. The quote at the beginning of the post is taken from the book. It sort of sums up the story ... the narrator just wants this part to be over. He seems to know that things will not always be like they are now, and that he must go through this part of his life to get where he is suppose to end up. But he is just waiting for it to be over. Do you think everyone can do that? Be objective about their own self? I don't think so. I think that is why addiction continues, depression continues ... the person cannot see past the pain they are in right now. And it becomes overwhelming. Bright Lights Big City was written in 1984 ... but it is still current and can teach you something while keeping you well entertained. I read this book as part of a challenge to read 100 books in 1 year, and I am blogging as I read. So, if you want to read all my thoughts on this book, click the link below.
Date published: 2010-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I'm not as think as you stoned I am: A review of Jay McInerney's Brights Lights, Big City I read Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (1984) while camping in the Rocky Mountains. I thought the contrast of gemstone lakes, waterfalls, and big rocks would nicely offset and the cynosure of New York through the eyes of Bolivian Marching Powder. It did. BLBC is one of the “novels of cocaine culture” which also include Bret Easton Ellis’s novel Less than Zero which I also read while in the Rocky Mountains (review to follow). Many people will likely be familiar with the novel through the film starring Michael J. Fox. I saw the film a few weeks after reading the novel. Despite its lack-luster performances and rather dead-pan delivery it does ring fairly true to the novel, at least in terms of themes and dialogue. I would recommend not spoiling the book by seeing the film. Read the novel. If you’re into broken people and wasted aimless youth within an obsessive urban setting you’ll probably enjoy McInerney’s book. The narrator is a writer working for the facts department of a magazine. Early on he is commissioned to check the facts on a piece written in French, a language listed on his resume but not within a more sober assessment of his competence. The novel works through his lonely evenings of cocaine and booze, love lost, love found, and life turned upside down. It isn’t a heart-wrenching story in the sentimental sense. He's working through a failed marriage to a very successful model and the death of his mother, a relation reconstructed in flashbacks. The protagonist isn’t cast as being that likeable. Despite the seriousness of many of its themes, the author manages to tell the story with a lightness that could best be understood as dissociation, a kind of literary imitation of how the protagonist feels about his own life. McInerney studied writing with Raymond Carver and, apparently, worked as a fact checker for the New Yorker. He is also associated with the “literary brat pack” which includes Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz and Mark Linquist. Since most of my reviews are part of a larger project dealing with the writings of Chuck Palahniuk, here’s the Palahniuk connection: Palahniuk studied writing with Tom Spanbauer who studied with Gordon Lish. Lish was Carver’s editor. If you like the style of Palahniuk, you’ll like McInerney’s novel – this is above and beyond other similarities between disenchantment and loneliness in the city that resonate with many of Palahniuk’s novels. If you like Coupland's writing you might find this a bit dry in comparison but no less engaging. BTW: like Fight Club, the protagonist in BLBC is not named. And in a bit of weirdness, the narrator signs in as “Ed Norton” when he and a friend break into his former place of employment. Facts all come with points of view Facts don’t do what I want them to. - Talking Heads “This is shaping up even worse than you anticipated. Still, you feel a measure of detachment, as if you had suffered everything already and this were just a flashback” (102). “His is on his feet. You remember thinking, He’s going to hit me” (159).
Date published: 2008-07-21