Bright Lights, Big City (novel)

Bright Lights, Big City (novel)

"Bright Lights, Big City" is a novel by the American author Jay McInerney, published by Vintage on August 12 1984.

It is written about a character's time spent caught up in, and notably escaping from, the mid-1980s New York fast lane. As the book is one of the few well-known English-language novels written in the second person, [ [ Steven Wu's Book Reviews: Bright Lights, Big City (Jay McInerney) ] ] its main character is unnamed. He is a writer with potential who, by day, works as a fact checker for a literary magazine for which he had hoped to write. By night, he is a partier, a cocaine-addict, and a generally confused young man. His wife, Amanda, recently left him and he copes with this by pretending nothing happened and telling noone that she's gone. Obviously convinced that she'll return someday, he searches for her at fashion events. He is obviously very scarred by her leaving and everything in his apartment seems to remind him of her, as does every mannequin."Bright Lights, Big City "is a scathing criticism of the superficiality pervasive in 1980's New York society.

The novel would go on to be the source material for a 1988 film of the same name. In 1999, an off-Broadway stage musical was produced by the New York Theater Workshop, written by Paul Scott Goodman and directed by Michael Grief, with orchestrations and musical direction by Richard Barone.

Putative source

The title of the book matches that of a 1950s blues song by R&B musician Jimmy Reed. His song was later covered by a number of artists, including The Rolling Stones and The Animals. The first verse of Reed's song ("Bright lights, big city...gone to my baby's head....I tried to tell the woman but she...don't believe a word I said") is a gloss on McInerney's novel. The narrator's wife Amanda is drawn to New York's bright lights, eases into a modeling career that neither she nor the narrator take seriously, and is ultimately seduced by that brightly-lit and vapid world in a way that leads her to abandon him.


Indie rock band Half Japanese play a track called "Bright Lights, Bright City" off of their 1988 record Charmed Life. The lyrics faintly recount the plot of the book.

Acoustic singer/songwriter Andrew Lips plays a track called "Bright Lights, Big City" off of his 2006/2008 album Madeline went to Devon/Fruitcake Soundtrack.


External links

* [ Bright Lights, Big City]
* [ Literapedia Notes for Bright Lights, Big City]

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