Jay McInerney

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Jay McInerney
Jay McInerney 2014.jpg
McInerney at Pen America/Free Expression Literature in May 2014
John Barrett McInerney Jr.

(1955-01-13) January 13, 1955 (age 66)
Alma mater Williams College
Spouse(s)Linda Rossiter
Merry Raymond
Helen Bransford
Anne Hearst (2006–present)
Website https://jaymcinerney.com/

John Barrett "Jay" McInerney Jr. ( /ˈmækɪnɜːrni/ ; born January 13, 1955) is an American novelist, screenwriter, editor, and columnist. [1] His novels include Bright Lights, Big City , Ransom, Story of My Life , Brightness Falls , and The Last of the Savages. 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 (2000) and A Hedonist in the Cellar (2006). His most recent novel is titled Bright, Precious Days , published in 2016. From April 2010 he was a wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal . In 2009, he published a book of short stories which spanned his entire career, titled How It Ended, which was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Janet Maslin of The New York Times . [2]


Early life and education

McInerney was born in 1955 in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Marilyn Jean (Murphy) and John Barrett McInerney, Sr., a corporate executive. [3] He graduated from Williams College in 1976. At Syracuse University, he earned a Master of Arts in English and studied writing with Raymond Carver.


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 was unique at the time for its depiction of cocaine culture in second-person narrative. The title is taken from a 1961 blues song by Jimmy Reed.[ citation needed ] The novel established McInerney's reputation as part of a new generation of writers. Labelled 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. [lower-alpha 1] Five novels followed in rapid succession: Ransom, Story of My Life , Brightness Falls , The Last of the Savages and Model Behavior.

After the success of Bright Lights, Big City , publishers started looking for similar works about young people in urban settings. Ellis's Less Than Zero , published in 1985, was promoted as following McInerney's example. McInerney, Ellis and Janowitz were based in New York City and their lives there were regular literary themes, chronicled by New York media.

Ellis used McInerney's character, Alison Poole (Story of My Life), in his novels American Psycho and Glamorama . McInerney revealed that the character of Alison Poole is based upon his former girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, then known as Lisa Druck. He described the character as "cocaine addled," and "sexually voracious" but also treated her with some sympathy. McInerney's roman à clef opened a prescient glimpse into the notorious horse murders scandal, which did not become known to the public until 1992, when Sports Illustrated magazine published a confession from the man who had murdered Lisa Druck's horse at her father's behest, in order to claim the insurance on its life. [4]

McInerney also has a cameo role in Ellis's Lunar Park , attending the Halloween party Bret hosts at his house. It was later revealed that McInerney was not pleased with his representation in the novel. [5]

Throughout his career, McInerney has struggled against the image of himself as both the author and protagonist of Bright Lights, Big City. In 2009, McInerney said in an interview, "Obviously, I'm no longer a 25-year-old bon vivant, but [that] gave me what I always wanted: the opportunity to be a full-time writer. It hasn't been entirely fair to my other books, and I've had to deal with a lot of idiocy on the part of the critics and the cultural commentators." [6] He appeared at Williams College as the Commencement speaker for the Class of 2010.

Personal life

His first wife was fashion model Linda Rossiter. His second wife was writer Merry Reymond. For four years he lived with fashion model Marla Hanson. [7] His third marriage, to Helen Bransford, lasted nine years, and the couple had fraternal twin children, John Barrett McInerney III and Maisie Bransford McInerney. In 2006, he married Anne Hearst.



The Calloway trilogy

Short fiction

Stories [lower-alpha 2]
TitleYearFirst publishedReprinted/collected
Con doctorMcInerney, Jay (2009). How it ended : new and collected stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN   978-0307268051.
"Everything is lost"2009McInerney, Jay (January 4, 2009). "Everything is lost". Sunday Times. London.
"In the North-West Frontier Province"McInerney, Jay (2009). How it ended : new and collected stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN   978-0307268051.
"Invisible fences"
"The Madonna of turkey season"
"My public service"


Critical studies and reviews of McInerney's work



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  1. In the September/October 2005 issue of Pages magazine, the "literary brat pack" was identified retrospectively as Bret Easton Ellis, Tama Janowitz, and McInerney. Other associated authors included Donna Tartt, Susan Minot, Peter Farrelly, Mark Lindquist, Peter J. Smith, and Mary Robison.
  2. Short stories unless otherwise noted.
  3. Online version is titled "Jay McInerney's middle–aged malaise".
  1. A slideshow of the best dressed authors, Vanity Fair Archived January 31, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Maslin, Janet. "Janet Maslin's Top 10 Books of 2009". New York Times.
  3. "McInerney, Jay 1955–". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  4. Nack, William, & Munson, Lester, Sports Illustrated (November 16, 1992). "Blood Money: In the rich, clubby world of horsemen, some greedy owners have hired killers to murder their animals for the insurance payoffs". CNN. Retrieved August 11, 2008.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. Brinbaum, Robert, The Morning News (January 19, 2006). "Birnbaum v. Bret Easton Ellis" . Retrieved February 25, 2007.
  6. EDT, Kurt Soller On 10/14/09 at 8:00 PM (October 14, 2009). "Jay McInerney: 25 Years After 'Bright Lights, Big City'". Newsweek. Retrieved August 24, 2019.
  7. Barber, Lynn, The Observer (September 10, 2000) Interview: Jay McInerney "The beautiful and the damned"
  8. Karin Ek (July 24, 2015). "Sincerely F Scott Fitzgerald". Archived from the original on December 22, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2018 via YouTube.