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A Video Chat with Author Jay McInerney – Capturing the Zeitgeist

A Video Chat with Author Jay McInerney – Capturing the Zeitgeist



Introduction to Jay McInerney  2:14 min.  Photo and design by Raymond Elman.  Music:  Carmen Cicero


Jay McInerney Jr. (b. 1955) is a New York Times Best Selling American novelist. His novels include Bright Lights, Big City; Ransom; Story of My Life; Brightness Falls; The Last of the Savages; Model Behavior; The Good Life; and Bright, Precious Days. He edited The Penguin Book of New American Voices, wrote the screenplay for the 1988 film adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, and co-wrote the screenplay for the television film Gia, which starred Angelina Jolie. He was the wine columnist for House & Garden magazine, and his essays on wine have been collected in Bacchus & Me and in A Hedonist in the Cellar. Since April 2010, he has been a wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal. In 2009, he published a book of short stories titled How It Ended, which spanned his entire career. It was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Janet Maslin of the New York Times.

After working as a fact-checker at The New Yorker, McInerney achieved fame with his first published novel, Bright Lights, Big City. Published in 1984, the novel, told in second-person narrative, was unique at the time for its depiction of cocaine culture. The novel established McInerney’s reputation as part of a new generation of writers. Labeled the “Literary Brat Pack” in a 1987 article in the Village Voice, McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz were presented as the new face of literature – young, iconoclastic and fresh.

The videos below are organized by topic and run between 60 seconds and 4 minutes. Click on any video. You must be connected to the Internet to view the videos.



RESILIENCE:  2:18 min.

You moved around a lot as a kid. What impact did that have on your writing, and when did you first become interested in writing as a career?



Like Norman Mailer and Sebastian Junger, you wrote a major best seller early in your career. What were you thinking when it happened, and what are your reflections on early success now?


DEVELOP A VOICE:  1:30 min.

I am hard pressed to think of anyone who started their career with a big hit, and didn’t have a bit of a let down with their next book.


EMPATHY:  1:31 min.

There is a concept called “The Imposter Syndrome” applied to situations when everyone else thinks you’re better at something than you do. Something you said in an interview suggested that you might feel that way a bit.


BREAKS THE RULES:  1:20 min.

After being fired as a fact checker by The New Yorker, did you ever publish anything in the magazine?



Was John Updike’s “Rabbit” series an inspiration for your trilogy?



Describe a challenging situation with a successful outcome.