November 29, 2016

Bright, Precious Days
Jay McInerney

The Time of Our Lives – “Once again it was the holiday season, that ceaseless cocktail party between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, when the city dressed itself in Christmas colors and flaunted its commercial soul, when the compulsive acquisitiveness of the citizenry, directed outward into ritual gift giving, was transmuted into a virtue and moderation into a vice.” This is not the most important sentence in Jay McInerney’s new, thoroughly engrossing, highly entertaining novel. But it’s a sentence I relish because it features many of the things I love about McInerney’s writing: it’s a beautifully (and carefully) crafted phrase; it’s about Manhattan; it’s about money; it’s about a particular slice of American life I’ve yearned for, striven for, come to know and grown weary of chasing. Plus, it comes wrapped in this gorgeous, tasteful package surrounded by thousands of similar such sentences, edited invisibly by Gary Fisketjon and sheathed in a clever, wistful jacket designed by Chip Kidd. What’s not to love? McInerney is a confident writer – perhaps that comes when your debut book (“Bright Lights, Big City”) becomes part of the cultural conversation, perhaps that comes when you’re publishing your eighth or ninth novel. In “Bright, Precious Days,” McInerney revisits Corrine and Russell Calloway, central figures from two previous books and a short story. McInerney tells another chapter of their marriage here – in dramatic, heart-tugging and laugh out-loud funny passages complete with surprising page-turners and keen social satire. He’s telling a larger story, too – a story of New York and a life of books and the battered American dream. That’s no small ambition and “Bright, Precious Days” is no small achievement.


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