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The writer whose career McInernery's most resembles is that of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both achieved huge, almost overwhelming early success. Both struggled to work their way out of the glare and expectations of that success. Both became known as much for their lifestyles as much as their books. While Fitzgerald wrote a masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, that McInerney, or almost anyone for that matter, has yet to match, McInernery has done something that may, over time, prove to be more interesting: he's lived through the downs of his life, continues to work, and is producing the kind of books we might have expected from Fitzgerald had he lived past the age of 44.
His latest book, The Good Life, is, in my opinion, his best book since Bright Lights, Big City. It tells the story of two Manhattan couples around the days of the events of September 11th. Luke and Sasha, wealthy Upper-East side socialites, and Russell and Corrine, a downtown literary editor and his wife, who were the subject of the earlier book Brightness Falls, are sleepwalking through their lives. They have parties and go to parties, live with spouses they're no longer sure they love, struggle with the correct way to raise their children. Luke is a banker who left his multi-million dollar job in search of something more fulfilling, while his wife is cheating on him with a former rival. Corrine is a stay-at-home mother whose husband is more concerned with work and other women than his family. Neither Luke nor Corrine see any way out of their marriages. Both end up working at a soup-kitchen near Ground Zero in the days immediately following the attacks on the World Trade Centers. They fall in love. They plan a future together. It's a simple story, a basic love story, and in the hands of a lesser writer, The Good Life could be awful. Instead, it's a very subtle, incredibly insightful, heartbreaking story about life in the New York, about marriage, about children and the choices they force us to make, about love and longing, about the search for meaning in our lives. It's a book about hope and how we find it, sustain and lose it, and it's a book about loss and how we deal with it.
It's also a deeply personal book, McInerney's most personal since Bright Lights, and it feels to me like I'm reading about variations of McInerney's own life. He, like Fitzgerald, is at his best when he's putting his own experiences into the lives of his characters, and I've never felt more of McInerney, or felt more vulnerability, which to me is a sign of strength in a writer, Unfortunately, Fitzgerald's life was unsustainable. He died drunk, penniless, alone, forgotten. McInernery could have followed his path, and it sometimes seemed like he would. Thankfully he didn't. People wondered what kind of writer Fitzgerald might have been had he lived. McInerney, his closest succesor, is starting to show us. --James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This book is a long, monotonous romp through the wonderful world of rich white people and all the melodrama they fill their time with. Read morePublished 13 months ago by CSabo
McInerny has a good concept -- how 9/11 might impact the lives of New Yorkers on a personal level -- but he does not execute it well. Read morePublished on October 17, 2012 by Leigh
A courageous book...brave to deal with the events of 9/11 while writing a literary work that overlaps the territory of romantic fiction; courageous too for McInerney to tell much... Read morePublished on October 6, 2012 by monica flint
Life in TriBeCa in the late summer and early fall of 2001 seems precarious to Corrine and Russell Calloway, whose marriage may be on the skids. Read morePublished on April 26, 2012 by Laurel-Rain Snow
Jay McInerney's books are kept in the 'Cult Fiction' section of my local bookshop in Dublin. Whether this cult consists of congenitally self-centred Manhattanites, those who aspire... Read morePublished on December 25, 2010 by BrightContralto
Since his debut with "Bright Lights, Big City", Jay McInerney chronics the Me-generation of the 1980's and 1990's. Read morePublished on June 24, 2009 by A. T. A. Oliveira
After `Brightness Falls' (I read it years ago and liked it), `The Good Life' is a sort of sequel for some of the characters previously depicted: we find Russell and Corrine... Read morePublished on November 6, 2008 by I LOVE BOOKS
Jay McInerney's title is an germinal answer seeking the roots of a mystical question: what makes life good? Read morePublished on December 31, 2007 by Wordsworth
I just read this book and I can't believe McInerney is ever mentioned in the same breath as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cheever, etc. He's not that great of a writer. Read morePublished on December 31, 2007 by C. Mcateer-cambouris