In My Library: Jay McInerney
True story: Jay McInerney introduced me to haute couture.
In 1988 — four years and two books after his megahit, “Bright Lights, Big City” — we were in an elevator together and I complimented him on his blazer.
He muttered something that sounded like a maternity boutique. “Our Mommy?” I echoed. “Armani! Armani!” he shouted.
Hard to believe, but “Bright Lights, Big City” came out 30 years ago.
McInerney is annotating a copy for PEN’s Dec. 2 auction, and believes his first novel holds up well.
“I remember alternative titles for it, including ‘Less Than Zero,’ which my friend Bret Easton Ellis later used,” recalls McInerney, whose writing teachers included Raymond Carver.
Here’s what he’s read (and reread) recently.
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
I hadn’t read any of Mitchell’s previous books and felt it was time to join the club. I admire the way he mixes everyday reality with imagined and supernatural worlds. I guess I’m more a fan of realism, but I greatly admire his talent.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan
I met Ian in 1985 when I published my first novel in London, and I find I want to read whatever he writes. This book is about a childless judge in London who’s dealing with the dissolution of her marriage and a court case involving the custody of a 17-year-old boy who’ll die of leukemia unless the court intervenes, because his parents are Christian Scientists. These two plots are masterfully interwoven.
Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?: Stories by Raymond Carver
I was at Williams College when this was published. There was a lot of talk then about the novel being dead, and people like John Barth questioning the validity of so-called naturalistic fiction. Carver blew those questions out of the water. He wrote about people working in mills and living in trailer parks. I went to Syracuse to study with him.
Her Brilliant Career by Rachel Cooke
This is a fascinating book about 10 accomplished women in the 1950s, who succeeded at their careers at a time when it was difficult for women to do so. It was written by a journalist I admire, who writes for The Guardian, and it kind of punctures the stereotypes of the period.