Even Jay McInerney is a Little Surprised at How Well Bright Lights, Big City Holds Up, Even If His Critics Disagree

Author and social fixture Jay McInerney‘s new book, The Last Bachelor, is being released in the UK this month; it’s a short-story collection about the morally complicated relationships of middle-class Manhattanites. In a piece in the Telegraph, Mr. McInerney comes off as certainly “the last” of something–perhaps the last author to establish a writing career based on the hedonistic lifestyles of New York yuppies–even though his new collection of stories takes a look at a decidedly more current, post-9/11 city.

Some of the article’s highlights include Mr. McInerney on his first novel, which he still enjoys re-reading occasionally:

“I hadn’t thought about it. I recently re-read it. It’s sort of like reading a book by somebody else. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty damn good. Where did I come up with that?’

“Sometimes it seems an albatross, because it remains not necessarily my best but definitely my most successful book. When I die the words Bright Lights, Big City will be in the headlines. Probably not The Good Life, probably not Brightness Falls, probably not Story of My Life.”

The article’s author on Mr. McInerney’s faded looks (and talent):

I take the wood-lined lift up to McInerney’s Greenwich Village penthouse. At 53, the trimly dressed, still boyish-looking, blue-eyed author nowadays packs around his midriff the evidence of all those midtown dinners, all those wines he has reviewed for House & Garden

Some say the work has also turned to fat. Several New Yorkers I have met thought McInerney was no longer a going concern in America, that his best books belonged to a sepia-tinted yesteryear when New York still exuded a brash, sickening confidence in itself. 

Mr. McInerney on his marriage to Anne Hearst

But these days the author is in “a very happy monogamous marriage”. It’s his fourth attempt at matrimonial bliss, “the same number of times as Hemingway and three less than Norman Mailer”. 

And the contradictory relationship between his reputation as an author and his social status:

“There is certainly a critical consensus here that writers ought to be living in towers and wearing tweed jackets and certainly not getting their picture taken too much. And I thumbed my nose at all of that for a long time, deliberately so, and I took my lumps for it. I suppose I thought somebody ought to redress the balance.” 

 Alas, no mention of his groundbreaking Gossip Girl appearances.

 

Even Jay McInerney is a Little Surprised at How Well Bright Lights, Big City Holds Up, Even If His Critics Disagree