Friday, April 17, 2009

Author Jay McInerney in the Big City

In the middle of the go-go decade of the 1980s, Jay McInerney lived the decadent party scene of New York City. He would partake in the fast-paced big city living that also included rampant drug use. Period books like the Bonfire of the Vanities and movies like Wall Street epitomize hard-charging professionals working for the top dollars by any means. McInerney's book and the much-panned film, Bright Lights, Big City, is also a part of the pantheon of the 80s debauchery, but it achieved something few authors or books even attempt: He wrote the book in the second person.

Like a how-to manual (or how-not-to, in this case), McInerney peppered the novel with extensive use of the word "you." The opening of the book shows just how bold and original the infrequently used tense sounds to the reader.

You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard lounge. All might come clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder.

McInerney will discuss his latest collection of stories, How It Ended, Wednesday night at The Commonwealth Club of California. (Read a review from the San Francisco Chronicle here.)

A big-screen remake of the 1988 film (which starred Michael J. Fox) is also on the drawing board. Fox told Entertainment Weekly he thinks the 80s-era drug use might not be a topical plot device nowadays. "Do people still run around New York fueled on cocaine 24 hours a day? I don't see [that] at 1st-grade pick-up and drop-off too much," said Fox.

McInerney's books have always had a certain autobiographical aspect to them. Readers of the gossip pages might remember the book, "Story of My Life," which was based on the 20-year-old party girl who later became known as former Sen. John Edwards's mistress. McInerney told the New York Post last year that he dated the woman who now calls herself Rielle Hunter for only a few months, but became so enamored with her personality that he based the novel on her.

"I spent a lot of time with her and her friends, whose behavior intrigued and appalled me to such an extent that I ended up basing a novel on the experience," McInerney recalled.

Acclaimed author Jay McInerney will discuss his latest book at The Commonwealth Club of California Wednesday, April 23 at six. Click here for more information.


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