Bright Lights, Big City

  • by Jay McInerney
  • Narrated by Daniel Passer
  • 5 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The tragicomedy of a young man in New York City, a writer, never named, who works as a fact-checker for a prestigious magazine. He struggles with the reality of his mother's death, alienation, and the seductive pull of drugs and a vibrant nightlife.

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What the Critics Say

"A sidelong look at life in the Big Apple, as experienced by youth that once had hope and aspirations. In spite of the depths to which the main characters descend, the exuberance and humour of the narrative maintains its wonderful disregard for conventional behaviour with great buoyancy. An entertaining read, but it is the resignation and frustration that lingers in the mind that makes this novel so compelling." (Kirkus)
"A rambunctious, deadly funny novel that goes right for the mark - the human heart." (Raymond Carver)
"The author is one of those reare writers who catches the moods, nuances and manners of a sub-culture with humor, finesse, skill and accuracy. A born stylist and remarkable discovery!" (George Plimpton)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Curiously, mundanely real

Just about everyone who has never lived in New York likes to imagine what it might be like. I found the book just the right balance of obscure and mundane to be believable. It's easy to imagine a person such as the main character existing in NY in the 80s.

Don't let my title mislead though, this book isn't boring. It's just got the right amount of day to day normality to make it believable.

When the book finished I initially thought "What? Where's the ending?". But after more thought about what the book was trying to achieve, I'm pretty satisfied with it. It's not a big morality tale, as I started to expect it would be. I was disappointed with some of the character's actions, in just the way I am sometimes disappointed with my actions or those of friends. But that's what makes this book endearing. It's as just life from the eyes of just another person.

The more I think about this book the more I'm glad I read it.

Final note though: At 5ish hours it's a fantastic quick read. Easy to follow, easy to visualise. I bought this on sale, and am glad I did.

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- Amber

Great Book, not for everyone

If you could sum up Bright Lights, Big City in three words, what would they be?

Provocative, bratty, brilliant.


What did you like best about this story?

This story follows a broken man who refuses to acknowledge he is broken. It is written in such a way that the reader also refuses to acknowledge this brokenness. This story is also written in second person which is interesting and atypical.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I didn't, but it was short enough that I could. It was very drawing.


Any additional comments?

Great for those who liked anything by Bret Easton Ellis or Catcher in the Rye.
Some may become uncomfortable with the story line, the frequent use of drugs, and the treatment of women.

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- William

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-25-2009
  • Publisher: Random House Audio