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Brightness Falls Paperback – March 31, 1993

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the strengths of McInerney's writing are in evidence, the characterizations in this well-plotted generational portrait of late-'80s Manhattan yuppies fail to convince. A BOMC alternate and a three-week PW bestseller in cloth. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The author of Bright Lights, Big City ( LJ 10/1/84) again offers an amusing and perceptive morality tale of Eighties excess. Russell Calloway, an editor for a major publishing house, and his stockbroker wife Corrine appear to be the perfect New York couple. Dissatisfied with the management of his publishing company, Russell organizes a hostile takeover bid and embarks on an affair with Trina, his investment banker. But he loses his shirt in the 1987 stock market crash, Corrine leaves him, and his best friend commits suicide. McInerney wryly examines the dilemma of people in their 30s who came of age with sex, drugs, and rock and roll and must now come to grips with adult responsibilities. Replete with ironic insight, wit, and style, this is highly recommended for popular fiction collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/92.
- Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (March 31, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679745327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679745327
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Edward Aycock on April 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
One can stand at a distance and criticize this novel as a tale of two self-absorbed yuppies, or one can come closer and actually read the book and find that it's not so easy to dismiss. Corinne and Russell are very real people, and McInerney does an excellent job fleshing them out. I sympathized with Corinne, a true lost soul who feels helpless as her husband's drive to succeed starts to change him, and also felt as indignant as Russell for the way he was being treated by his superior at the publishing company. All along the way, I felt dread in the pit of my stomach as to what would happen with Russell's attempt to takeover the company, but since McInerney sets the novel in the months right before the Stock Market Crash of 1987, that dread is most likely intentional.

This is the third McInerney novel I've read, and I can now say that I am a fan. "Brightness Falls" is denser and more complex than "Bright Lights, Big City" and "Story of My Life" but it doesn't hit a false note. He conveys late 80s Manhattan perfectly, and juggles the myriad points of view like a pro.

Why this novel does not have "National Bestseller" emblazoned across the top surprises me. Perhaps in 1992, people just weren't in the mood to read a novel about 80s excess, feeling it was too soon. Their loss. Several years on, this novel holds up very well. Interesting that the book also somewhat mirrors the Manhattan of today, where finance is once again booming, real estate is over the top and many are living well. People live high, and there's no real sign of stopping. Will this new world of ugly luxury condos (face it, they're ugly), the vanishing arts frontier and dwindling middle class last forever, supplanting a vibrant city with a glossy, homogeneous veneer? It seems that way; nobody foresees an end to to this new gilded age. The hubris is thick in the air and brightness falls when people least expect it.
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Format: Paperback
I read McInerney's early success Bright Lights, Big City nine years ago and was so impressed that I bought each subsequent book on sight. Disappointingly, the next two I read got increasingly trivial and depressing. Until BRIGHTNESS FALLS. I thought the title was an interesting comment on the success of his first novel and the downfall of his career since then. However, I was not prepared for the stylistic maastery and raw emotion that were to fill the over-400 pages I committed myself to read. It was an adventure to pick up the book each night, as new characters continued to emerge throughout. Some characters had a decided influence on the plot of the book, while others served to embellish the feelings and situations of a given character. Each chapter focusses on a new aspect of the story, though without seeming contrived to rotate through them all. In fact, this approach serves to embed the reader further in the feeling that the lives of the main characters are irreversibly entwined with the lives of all those they encounter. Though it may be trite to say that the book made me cry, it is true. The pure love and pain expressed in its final pages had me sobbing in my airline seat as I read the closing words, much to the embarrassment of the passengers around me. If you liked Bright Lights, Big City and have been waiting for the next great Jay McInerney book, this is it. Wait no longer.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having witnessed the recent (and on going) collapse of the real estate, mortgage, and banking industries, which were preceded by only a few years by the Dot Com bubble of the late - 90's - I wonder - will we ever learn?

Brightness Falls is a needed morality tale (and history lesson) for a lost generation. I read this book nearly twenty years ago, yet the characters and story still resonant within me. Our culture is ruled by greed, unbridled ambition and more of everything. This is the fuel for our very lives - a good citizen today is a good consumer. Our responsibility, if we do not wish for the house of cards to falls, is to buy lots of crap - crap we not need, with money we do not have to impress people we do lot like!

Brightness Falls features the quest of a couple for the golden ring - wealth, fame and privilege.

It is a story about all of us - about Americans who came of age in the Reagan Era and beyond. It speaks the truth about what rests in our hearts and our desire to skip the mundane and difficult aspects of life - and just experience the fun and easy. We know all to well that life is full of challenges, struggle, pain, suffering, mean bosses, and disappointment.

But, this is not true, not for the well to do (or so we think). The rich live a different life. This is the story we have been told, and sold, anyway. Over last century, beginning with the stories of Horatio Alger, we've been indoctrinated with the belief that every man can attain high-society status. Everyone can be rich, famous and "important." For many, this has become an obsession - one for which they will sacrifice their morals, ethics and their very soul to attain. We have witnessed this time and again over the past 30 years.
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Format: Paperback
Set just before the 1987 stock market crash and taking its title from a macabre 17th century poem about the unavoidable ruination of youth, beauty, ambition and life itself, Jay Mcinerney's finest novel is the tale of a twenty-something married couple, Russell and Corrine, who live in New York City at the height of '80's excess and glamour. The man whose life forms the basis of this novel, Russell, is an aspiring writer who has shelved his ambitions and taken up work as a publisher, editing and pushing through other peoples' books. He is unhappy at his job, slightly bored in his marriage, and when the chance comes up to advance himself and become part-owner of a faltering publishing house, he seizes it....exactly days before the ruination the market collapse brings on. This is a novel of expertly appreciated manners and mores in Reagan's New York, augmented by a fabulously-sketched cast of characters, all moved along at a brisk pace by the power of Mcinerney writing in top form. Thus far this is the author's best novel and probably the greatest of all examinations of life among the upwardly-mobile in 1980's Manhattan.
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