Review – Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

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Review – Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Before I read this book, I expected Jay McInerney to write in a similar way to Bret Easton Ellis, as many critics consider the two authors to be in the same ideological camp. I have only read Ellis’ debut novel Less Than Zero, which I know is not wholly representative of his oeuvre, yet I can draw conclusions about Ellis’ usual themes. I believe Frank Ocean summarized the experience well in the song “Novacane,” his characters have pushed the envelope of experience so far that self-destructive behavior is the only thing that has any power to make them feel emotion.

This was not the case in this book, as I found Jay McInerney’s protagonist to be not so far gone. Though he is prone to self-destructive behavior, there is still oftentimes a self-awareness that his frequent cocaine use and late nights are not healthy. I found the second-person point of view to be a little gimmicky, ultimately because I don’t think it added much to the effect of the novel. Had he used the first person I think the book would have read mostly the same. However, I did feel able to identify with the main character, I was also once a white, twenty-four year old male, living in New York City, an aspiring writer, struggling with a job that I had no passion for, and engaging in self-destructive behavior. The novel was very relatable, and McInerney writes about the city in a recognizable way, despite it taking place in the eighties. I recommend this book as a quick, light read!

McInerney, Jay. Bright Lights, Big City. Vintage, 1984.

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