Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney


“The candor was infectious.  It spread back to the beginning of your life.  You tried to tell her, as well as you could, what it was like being you.  You described the feeling you’d always had of being misplaced, of standing to one side of yourself, of watching yourself in the world even as you were being in the world, and wondering if this was how everyone felt.  That you always believed that other people had a clearer idea of what they were doing, and didn’t worry quite so much about why.  You talked about your first day of school.  You cried and clutched her leg.  You can still remember how her plaid slacks felt, the scratchiness on you cheek.  She sent you off to the bus — She interrupted you here to say she wasn’t much happier than you were — and you hid in the woods until you saw the bus leave and then went home and told her you had missed it.  So Mom drove you to school, and by the time you got there you were an hour late.  Everybody watched you come in with your little note, and heard you explain that you missed the bus.  When you finally sat down you knew that you would never catch up.”

His first novel, you think what a shame it’s so easily dismissed as “brat pack” literature by people who have never even read it.  You also vaguely remember the Michael J Fox movie version you saw once.   You’ll have to rent that again sometime.  You’ve even heard that they’re going to remake it – just like the Karate Kid, Red Dawn, Wall Street and every other memorable movie from that decade.   You fully recognize that the 80’s is a gold mine for every creatively callow dipshit in Hollywood.

You also think he’s writing about you; I mean, so does everybody else, but damned if he hasn’t been watching you.


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