Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Bright Lights, Big City

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 r...

Details Bright Lights, Big City

TitleBright Lights, Big City
Release DateAug 12th, 1984
GenreFiction, New York, Classics, Contemporary, Novels, Literature, American

Reviews Bright Lights, Big City

  • Glenn Russell
    “Your brain at this moment is composed of brigades of tiny Bolivian soldiers. They are tired and muddy from their long march through the night. There are holes in their boots and they are hungry. They need to be fed. The need the Bolivian Marching Powder.” Quote from the opening scene of this 1984 Jay McInerney novel told in cool, hip, drug-hyped second person. But, alas, this is merely the surface. Each time I read this book, I comprehend mo...
  • Fabian
    So it remains to say, which one's better? This, or Bret Easton Ellis's literary debut, "Less Than Zero"? These two novels are comparable because they crystallized the 80's with style to spare. They both have that quality that makes a reader almost fanatically impatient for their next written work.My opinion is that THIS ONE gets top prize. (Although Ellis's "Rules of Attraction" is better than both of these). The protagonist gets some help from t...
  • Orsodimondo
    IL GIORNO COME SEMPRE SARÀTu non sei esattamente il tipo di persona che ci si aspetterebbe di vedere in un posto come questo a quest’ora del mattino.Questo è l’incipit, comincia proprio così.Bright Lights, Big City – Le mille luci di New York.E perché lui e il posto e l’ora del giorno non si accordano?Perché a quell’ora, le 4 del mattino, lui dovrebbe essere a casa a dormire, la mattina dopo deve andare al lavoro. Sarà uno stracci...
  • Lisa Eckstein
    You've been meaning to read BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY for years, ever since hearing that it's written in the second person. You were intrigued, understandably. Point of view in fiction has always been an area of interest, and you might be described as a sucker for narrative gimmicks.While preparing for a trip to Manhattan, you entertained romantic fantasies of reading a novel set in New York during your stay. You forgot, as you always do, that you ...
  • Jonathan Ashleigh
    This book is one I believe everyone should read. The subject matter is poignant, still relevant and (given the subject matter) extremely clean. Along with many, this book seems to me a prequel to Bret Easton Ellis‘s take on hip New York. While finishing it, I considered starting it over from the beginning immediately but have decided to reread American Psycho first. Bright Lights, Big City is a fast read and I think it is worth your time.
  • Jessica
    Thanks to Bookface, you no longer get this book mixed up with American Psycho, and can now easily tell the difference between Bret Easton Ellis and Jay MacInerney. Good thing you cleared that right up before you embarrassed yourself at one of those writerly New York parties you're always getting invited to. It would've been awful to have spilled your drink on the wrong author, for the wrong reason.... whew!This book is about how terrible people's...
  • mark monday
    perhaps the best things i can say about this one are that it perfectly captured a perfectly nauseating time period in the mid-80s and it certainly reinvigorated the use of second-person narrative with surprising elan; perhaps the worst thing i could say about this one is that It Drove Me Up The Wall With Its Pathetically Entitled Non-Entity Of A So-Called Protagonist And It Somehow Made It Okay To Be A Pretentious Whiny Twit And Nihilistic Fuck. ...
  • Rebecca
    I was almost tempted to give this five stars--an honor I've bestowed upon just two books all year. This book surprised me. Here was a character who, yes, snorts cocaine and passes out in bathrooms--but he has a conscience. The second-person narrative is effortless. McInerney is a part of the "literary brat pack," so his work is lumped in along with Bret Easton Ellis's. I remember Less than Zero as a confusing jumble of drug-feuled ramblings about...
  • Maciek
    Published in 1984, Bright Lights, Big City is famous for being a novel narrated entirely in the second person; although it's neither the first or the only book to do that, somehow it became one of the better known examples of this technique. Apparently, the novel began its life as a short story Jay McInerney published in a literary magazine, and which he later expanded into a full novel.Aside from the neat narrative trick, there is not much that ...
  • John
    You decide to read this book because it was written in the second person. This is interesting to you. You've never read a book written in that manner, at least you can't remember if you have. This seems like a pretentious idea to you, but you are curious. You like the book more than you expected to. It isn't all that dated. Sure, lots of NYC landmarks have changed, but the gist is still the same. You identify with the main character. You decide t...
  • Hadrian
    Ehhhhhhhh.I do not care about this man, whose story is told in the second-person. If it is a gesture to make me feel sympathy for him, I do not. I do not care about his job. I do not care about his cocaine habit. I do not care about his idolizing his supermodel girlfriend. I do not care about his parties. I do not care about his boss or his papery coworkers. I do not care about the clumsy Nicholas Sparks story of his dying mother. I do not care a...
  • Steven Godin
    The ONLY McInerney novel worth reading and a masterpiece of 80's literature, New York is the setting and it's awash with money, excess, fashion, music, clubbing and of course the most important ingredient of all...Bolivian Marching Powder!, or for those not familiar-Cocaine. A brilliant comic morality tale told in first person narrative that is sharp, witty and a whole lot of fun, easily read in a couple of sittings, think American Psycho without...
  • Drew
    Not sure what to think of this one. On the one hand, it's got a lot of very good prose (and funny, too, e.g. "You are a republic of voices tonight. Unfortunately, that republic is Italy."), and you pretty much have to identify with the main character...he is you, after all.* On the other hand, and maybe this is symptomatic of first novels, but McInerney seems to feel the need to heap on some unnecessary dramatic events either in a quest for Total...
  • Shepherd
    You get used to reading a novel in second person pretty quickly, so it's not really that annoying. You enjoy how quickly the pages turn, how quickly the plot flows. It's a fun read, if not a deep one. You recognize the parallels with your own life, but don't feel the need to dwell on this. You end up liking the main character, even though you know he's an asshole. You're a bit resistant to some implied moralizing at the end, but you let it go. An...
  • Jr Bacdayan
    I didn’t care as much as I wanted to. Read this book if you’re looking for a one-night thing, a quickie reading that’s mainly for pleasure and the heck of it. If you’re looking for something serious, move on or read the part of this review under Sensuality vs Intellectualism. This novel offers some sort of limelight in the city of New York back in the ‘80s. The joy ride is personified by a man rapidly losing hold of his life. If you’r...
  • Sandra
    Qualche domenica fa, nell’inserto del Corriere della Sera sulla lettura c’era un’intervista a tale Gary Fisketjon, editor newyorkese scopritore di talenti come Cormac Mc Carthy ed anche di Jay Mc Inerney. Non avevo mai sentito parlare di questo scrittore, lo ammetto. Ma le parole entusiastiche dell’editor su questo scrittore enfant prodige, di cui pubblicò nel 1984 “Le mille luci di New York”, del quale dice che “occuperà sempre u...
  • Kathryn
    A book which fits on very few of my shelves. I think it is good to read out of my comfort zone, though this is not the first book of this kind (drug-addled entitled and oblivious individuals in their twenties running around a city) which I have read. Less Than Zero was better but a beast of a differnet nature as well, so I am being totally unfair in comparing the two. But I simply have to compare McInerney and Ellis. They fed off of eachother, wi...
  • Wynne Kontos
    My dad loaned this book to me right before I went abroad to Paris this summer. He had attached a yellow Post-It saying he thought I might enjoy it since it takes place in both New York and Paris (sort of). I got no personal reading done in Paris, and this book, despite being only 230 something pages, has been on my shelf since this summer until I got to it this fall. There must have been a cosmic source making me wait to read it, since I believe ...
  • Silvia Sirea
    Frenesia e inadeguatezza sono le prime parole che mi vengono in mente se penso a questo romanzo.Ci si ritrova, fin da subito, catapultati nella vita della New York degli anni ottanta tra grattacieli, taxi, luci e discoteche. Il protagonista, un giovane uomo di nemmeno trent'anni che lavora per un'importante rivista ed è stato da poco lasciato dalla bellissima moglie, cede alle lusinghe della cocaina per evitare di pensare alla piega triste che h...
  • Maria Thomarey
  • Supreeth
    It would be an understatement to say that I read and loved this book. It's more like snorting coke, hanging around with this Allagash dude, partying every night, struggling with writer blocks, hating get the idea, typical well-read, shallow, cynical young men with a thing for art. I've read a good chunk of second person narrated books lately - Suicide by Edouard Leve, The reluctant fundamentalist, Fall by Camus, but this is the only bo...
  • dv
    Libro che ha la capacità di trascinare in un vortice temporale diretto verso gli anni ’80: inizia come un mix fra Afterhours di Scorsese e alcune delle migliori pagine di Bret Easton Ellis, continua come Office Space di Mike Judge per poi trovare una sua via originale che va oltre e supera tutti questi riferimenti. E per forza: sono tutti successivi al 1984 di questo libro. In questo sta la grandezza di McInerney: nell’aver messo su carta, p...
  • Kimbofo
    What a joy this Bloomsbury classic proved to be. First published in 1985, I’d long written Jay Mcinnerney’s Bright Lights, Big City off as a “drugs novel” — but how wrong could I be? Yes, there’s a little bit of cocaine use in it, but this is a brilliant and memorable novel about one of my favourite subjects in fiction: journalism. And, like many books of that ilk, it’s essentially a black comedy — and one that felt very close to ...
  • Patrick
    I finally read Bright Lights, Big City. I wanted to dislike it, to put it in the same category as American Psycho and move on. But I ended up liking the book. I liked it a lot, actually. My main impressions were: (1) This is not the best book I'll ever read, but it's better than 95 percent of the books I pick up. The plot is very undeveloped, but the story hangs together extremely well. A series of collages tells you what you need to know without...
  • Jake
    I didn't expect to enjoy "Bright Lights, Big City", because the premise sounds so vile: cocaine-addled yuppie cracks up amid the glitzy world of 1980s Manhattan. But from the first pages, I realized something no one had ever told me about McInerney: he's a very funny writer. What's more, he makes the main character very sympathetic, so despite all the ridiculous, self-indulgent bullshit he pulls, you don't feel like he's a bad person, and you wan...
  • Stefania T.
    Insaziabilmente spiritoso. Le battute si rincorrono come cani da caccia, tutte fanno centro, tutte divertono.Narrare la storia in seconda persona singolare è stata senza dubbio alcuno una mossa intrigante.Il finale è scenografico e poetico al tempo stesso.Ma, purtroppo, il romanzo mi è rimasto addosso come una distratta passata di smalto scadente: troppi i fatti - schiacciati come sardine (elencati) in centocinquanta paginette, e personaggi di...
    Love the use of second person. Love feeling like I'm hitting all the best parties in NYC. Love all the fun names for cocaine. I even love the twin towers depicted on the cover.Maybe a little short on plot and character but this is a fun novel not a sleep inducing, thought provoking, literary work.
  • Goran Gluščić
    Do McInerneya sam došao zbog svoje opsjednutosti radovima Breta Eastona Ellisa. Ipak su njih dvojica, zajedno s Tamom Janowitz, u osamdesetima tvorili grupu mladih pisaca nazvanu 'The Brat Pack' koji su pisanjem romana i kratkih priča o urbanom yuppie glamuru ispunjenom bogataškom depresijom i kokainom zapravo i sami završili živeći takve živote. Od onda je prošlo trideset godina i to su sada uspješni ljudi u pedesetim godinama, usprkos ...
  • Scott
    If Delillo is the master philosopher of the post-modern novel, Rushdie the satiric fantasist, and Bret Easton Ellis the brazen provocateur, then, based solely upon this, my initial introduction, Jay MacInerney seems to be the genre's humanist. For a book that laments the breakdown of human identity and significance in 80s New York, where even the very fate of literature and film is left in the hands of "pygmies" where giants once stood, the tende...
  • Julie Ehlers
    I recall the exact circumstances under which I obtained my copy of Bright Lights, Big City. Home from college on a break, I was at the local Waldenbooks perusing a cart full of remainders that were advertised at 90 percent off their already low sale prices. Among them was this book, remaindered at 99 cents and now discounted even further. I brought it up to the register, where it was rung up by the brother of a girl I went to middle school with. ...
  • Liz
    Is this really a book all New Yorkers have to read? That's how it was brought to my attention and, perhaps because of that, I found it disappointingly 80s. I was expecting the city to be more of a character but instead it's all coke and bars and mocking of lit magazines - Gawker before Gawker existed. I feel like "Bright Lights, Big City" belongs on a shelf with "American Psycho" and "Bonfire of the Vanities." The literary brat pack connection is...
  • Rachel Louise Atkin
    Read for the second time and oh my god this book is just so good. It’s ever better than Less Than Zero which really hurts me to admit.—Incredible. Oh my god. It had a different tone than I expected but I soon got used to it, and when I did I just couldn't stop reading. Finished it in less than 12 hours. Definitely going to be reading more McInerney after this one. If you like books about writers stumbling about New York and getting drunk with...
  • K
    Although this book is tiny, the writing is sassy and smart. Set in the 80's New York young professional coke scene, think American Psycho but with less mutilation and more moping. Apparently they made a movie out of it with Michael J. Fox. I have no desire to see it.
  • sologdin
    Not so ludicrous as its oft-noted companion, Less Than Zero, but also not exactly on four corners with that novel, either. There, a lumpenized university student, here a proletarianized post-university kid. Both are more or less clueless, though this narrator (whose annoying second-person becomes synonymous with first-person fairly quickly) experiences routine domestic trauma sufficient to cause his difficulties. As the text intones, "suffering i...
  • Chaim
    I've been reading literature seriously for 15 years, and I have no idea how I've just now read Bright Lights, Big City. My first impression is that this is a classic. It's shocking to me that this book, which made a huge splash during its 1984 release, seems to have been largely forgotten. The writing is perfect from a technical standpoint; the story is a page-turner, and the portrait of the protagonist is raw, verisimilitudinous, and in the end ...
  • Amanda Patterson
    The unnamed protagonist of this brilliant novel is a writer who works as a fact checker for a high-brow magazine. At night he loses himself in parties, using and abusing cocaine.Our protagonist does not want to find himself sober. If he does, he'll have to accept that his wife, Amanda, has left him. His answer is to embrace the hedonism of the 1980s yuppie party scene.Told from the second person narrative viewpoint, the novel is perfect for the d...
  • Andrew
    I loved this book. McInerney pulls off this narrative all in the second person. He moves from to scene to scene in such a fluid way that the book's end comes as a shock, not because of content but because it snuck up. There's a tremendous amount of courage in ending a book at page 180. Sure, there is more to know, greater depths to dip down into, but often those can live in our imaginations.
  • George K.
    Είναι το πρώτο βιβλίο του Μακίνερνι που διαβάζω, είναι και το πρώτο που έγραψε ο συγγραφέας το 1984. Μπαίνει στην ίδια κατηγορία με βιβλία του Μπρετ Ίστον Έλις, ίσως και του Ντάγκλας Κόπλαντ, (και άλλων παρόμοιων συγγραφέων), αν και το στιλ του είναι φ...
  • Eveline Chao
    LOVED this. There's at least 1 representation (of a ballbreaker female boss) that I find a little problematic, and some of the revealed psychological motivations behind the character's actions are a tad cliched, but the author gets a pass for how young he was when he wrote this. In the end it was all just SO funny and clever and moved so fast and packed so much information and sharpness and heartache into such simple short sentences, that I could...
  • Carl R.
    So you decide pick a book or two off a must-read list of 25, and one of them is Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney and you open it up to find that it's a first person narrator writing in the second person. You've heard of this phenomenon, but never encountered it and are fascinated with how it goes. For a while. Then, more and more, you feel like the narrator is calling "you" "you" and you object that you aren't in this night club at all bu...
  • Tubs
    okay. i read this book and Ian McEwan's Amsterdam in a span of like five days. they're both short, quick-ish reads, so thinking about one book always ends up as a comparison with the other. this despite the fact that they're not extremely similar. this book was more immediately satisfying during the reading of it; i felt some degree of emotional investment in what the main character was going through. however, that ended when the book did. amster...
  • Theresa Griffin
    Absolutely LOVED this little book and I only just read it for the first time in early 2018. What can I say? Its funny, its honest, its creative and amusing. I'd heard about this book for so many years and had never taken the time to read it. I really enjoyed how it was written in second person narrative voice and also the rumor that so much of it was based on Jay Mcinerny's life in New York. One of my favorite books, and a part of my permanent co...
  • Misha
    Read in high school as the 80s were winding to a close, or perhaps the 90s were just beginning, although I'd argue that 90-91 (my final year of HS) was just the decade's death throes before grunge and Generation X rose from its ashes. I don't remember much about the book that I can separate in my mind from the Michael J. Fox film. I liked it, liked the writing, liked the ending. It did not make me want to run off to New York, nor did it dampen my...
  • Jim Sheridan
    I read this because it recently entered as choice in the curriculum of a class I'm teaching. Of course, I remember when it came out; Jay McInerney and Brett Easton Ellis were the Hot Young Authors of the 1980s. For no good reason, I did not read it then but I absorbed its feel somehow. My own failed attempt at the Great American Novel in the early 90s had a lot in common with this book, for better and for worse. This is the only novel I've read t...
  • Eric
    Enjoyable. Money-Lite.