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Diary

Jay McInerney: The Great American Novelists, 23 April 1987

... Why is it so difficult to sustain a literary career in America? Joyce proposed that Ireland is an old sow who devours her young; America sometimes seems to resemble a meat-packing corporation that bloats its animals with hormones and chemical hype before slitting their throats. ‘There are no second acts in American lives,’ said F. Scott Fitzgerald, archetype of the American artist betrayed by the Judas kiss of fame, his early work overpraised, he himself declared a has-been just as he was achieving mastery ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... It would be interesting to place Jay McInerney and David Holbrook as neighbours at E.M. Forster’s imaginary table. Both novelists are fascinated by decadence – that much they have in common. But their diagnoses and anatomies of the decadent condition are quite different; worlds apart, to use Holbrook’s dominant image ...
Ransom 
by Jay McInerney.
Cape, 279 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 224 02355 1
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Bright Lights, Big City 
by Jay McInerney.
Flamingo/Fontana, 182 pp., £2.75, April 1986, 0 00 654173 9
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... but it could just as easily – apart perhaps from its humourless tone – come from Jay McInerney’s new novel, Ransom, whose eponymous hero has fled ‘modern America’ for the ‘beauty, refinement, and truly civilised quality’ of a traditional Japanese school. Not a school for monks, but a karate school, a place of combined ...

A Simpler, More Physical Kind of Empathy

Lorna Sage: Haruki Murakami, 30 September 1999

South of the Border, West of the Sun 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel.
Harvill, 187 pp., £9.99, July 1999, 1 86046 594 3
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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle 
by Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin.
Harvill, 609 pp., £12, May 1998, 9781860464706
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... Talking to Jay McInerney in 1992, the year South of the Border, West of the Sun was published in Japanese, Haruki Murakami said that he wasn’t so much an international writer, as a non-national writer: ‘You might call it the Japanese nature that remains only after you have thrown out, one after another, all those parts that are altogether too “Japanese” ...

Beautiful People

Jonathan Coe, 23 July 1992

Brightness Falls 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 416 pp., £15.99, May 1992, 0 7475 1152 7
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The Lost Father 
by Mona Simpson.
Faber, 506 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 571 16149 9
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Out with the Stars 
by James Purdy.
Peter Owen, 192 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0861 9
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... is material here for a sustained 500-page narrative rather than a Carveresque short story. As for McInerney, we have grown so used to thinking of him as a purveyor of brittle, epigrammatic fictions that there is an immediate sense of unease in seeing his characteristic milieu, preoccupations and ironies suddenly being given the full-blown neo-Dickensian ...

Mr Trendy Sicko

James Wolcott, 23 May 2019

White 
by Brett Easton Ellis.
Picador, 261 pp., £16.99, May 2019, 978 1 5290 1239 2
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... House editor who created the trade paperback series Vintage Contemporaries, the springboard for Jay McInerney’s breakthrough novel, Bright Lights, Big City, and Morgan Entrekin, the editor at Simon and Schuster who acquired Bret Easton Ellis’s Less than Zero. Lish had the cult cred, but their properties shone the brightest. Gary and Morgan, Morgan ...

Your mission is to get the gun

Theo Tait: Raoul Moat, 31 March 2016

You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... Hankinson has chosen a different model: a snazzy second-person narration, of the kind used by Jay McInerney in Bright Lights, Big City. He has also chosen – this seems to be his own innovation – to rely heavily on square brackets. The story proper begins with Moat’s release from Durham Prison, where he was serving a short sentence for ...

Nothing but the Present

Lorna Scott Fox, 23 May 1996

The Law of Enclosures 
by Dale Peck.
Chatto, 287 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6160 4
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... of the Hemingway-Carver line; weightier than the snivelling of yesterday’s golden boys like Jay McInerney, more honest than the calculated revel in social anomie of an absent author like Brett Easton Ellis. With the layering and transformation of memory that recur in Fucking Martin and The Law of Enclosures, Peck succeeds not only in ...

Your Inner Salmon

Nick Richardson: Mohsin Hamid, 20 June 2013

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia 
by Mohsin Hamid.
Hamish Hamilton, 228 pp., £14.99, March 2013, 978 0 241 14466 4
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... nice, but can’t you sex it up a bit? Write it in the second person maybe? That did wonders for Jay McInerney. Hamid: You fool, that would completely ruin it … [He pauses, then looks up, alert, as though suddenly inspired] Hamid: In a way that will illustrate my point perfectly! [He cackles] Self-help is a $13 billion industry; literary ...

Showers of Hats

Robert Baird: ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’, 30 March 2017

Lincoln in the Bardo 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, March 2017, 978 1 4088 7174 4
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... But even then it was obvious that Saunders wasn’t interested in snark for snark’s sake. Jay McInerney, reviewing CivilWarLand for the New York Times, recognised him as ‘one of those rare writers who can effortlessly blend satire and sentiment’. The shape of that sentiment became increasingly clear. In a eulogy for David Foster Wallace, who ...

Avoid the Orient

Colm Tóibín: The Ghastly Paul Bowles, 4 January 2007

Paul Bowles: A Life 
by Virginia Spencer Carr.
Peter Owen, 431 pp., £19.95, July 2005, 0 7206 1254 3
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... gave me the original impetus to consider the possibility of writing a novel’. In 1985, he told Jay McInerney: ‘I got really interested in the whole process, and thought, I wish I had written this book. I started writing stories about two years after she published her novel.’ He translated Sartre’s Huis Clos and Borges’s story ‘The Circular ...

Via ‘Bret’ via Bret

J. Robert Lennon: Bret Easton Ellis, 24 June 2010

Imperial Bedrooms 
by Bret Easton Ellis.
Picador, 178 pp., £16.99, July 2010, 978 0 330 44976 2
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... when our ship failed to come in, claim we had hated all along. Ellis provided them, and so did Jay McInerney, Tama Janowitz and others: these were writers who shared a sensibility and social milieu; they came to be identified with the same unsavoury behaviour of their characters. They were declared spokespeople for a generation that, once the initial ...

In the Box

Dale Peck, 6 February 1997

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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Push 
by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... a marketable context; or the Brat Pack writers of the late Eighties, whose three ‘founders’, Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz, remain its only viable practitioners; or the so-called New Narrativists of the first half of this decade, writers as diverse in talent and sensibility as Rebecca Brown, Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker, Gary ...

Smilingly Excluded

Richard Lloyd Parry: An Outsider in Tokyo, 17 August 2006

The Japan Journals: 1947-2004 
by Donald Richie, edited by Leza Lowitz.
Stone Bridge, 494 pp., £13.99, October 2005, 1 880656 97 3
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... alighted in Japan, the results have usually been disastrous. At the peak of his Manhattan success, Jay McInerney came out to study karate and produced the dismal Ransom, full of sub-Hemingway machismo and lumbering Japonaiserie (‘he picked up his katana, made by the great swordsmith Yasukuni of the Soshu Branch of the Sagami School’). The best that ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... of the mid-1980s craze for what Wallace called ‘conspicuously young’ first-time novelists: Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, writers Wallace despised. His next book, Girl with Curious Hair (1989), saw him starting to focus his brainpower in haunting, enduringly strange tales of television, flatness, chemical and electrical ...

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