100 Novels: Bright Lights, Big City


The novel I’ve chosen as the 60th in my 100-novels reading project is Jay MCInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. I first read this novel in my early twenties, about five or six years after it was published. Back then, it was so far away from my experience, I couldn’t relate, and didn’t find it as riveting as did some of my contemporaries; it, along with novels such as Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis, also seemed just a rip-off of classic coming-of-a-bankrupt-generation novels such as Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises.

Now, however, I find it much more relevant, and can relate to the narrator, although I’m still far away from the dance clubs of upper Manhattan, the vast quantities of Bolivian Marching Powder (an excellent trope for cocaine, btw), and extensive hedonism. And, I’m looking forward to a lively read; I’m already about 30 pages in, and I’m finding it engaging.

As an aside: one of the things I’ve noticed with my reading project, especially when books are a reread, is that sometimes the books I’m reading do seem much more relevant to me now than they did when first read. It seems to fit the Heraclitian notion of never stepping into the same river twice, a cliche, I know, but the more I read, the truer this cliche seems.

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