Fa­mil­iar groove in the Big Ap­ple

Kevin Ra­bal­ais

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

THE char­ac­ters have a few more wrin­kles around their eyes. They’re also thicker around the mid­dle. For the most part, how­ever, the song re­mains the same.

In his lat­est book, a col­lec­tion of 12 sto­ries, Jay McIn­er­ney con­tin­ues to ex­plore the themes that have ob­sessed him since his 1984 de­but, Bright Lights, Big City . That novel, which fa­mously de­tails ’ 80s in­dul­gence and greed in Man­hat­tan, pro­pelled McIn­er­ney into lit­er­ary pages and gos­sip col­umns.

Since its pub­li­ca­tion, McIn­er­ney’s be­hav­iour has com­peted for at­ten­tion with his work. His ca­reer has suf­fered from well-pub­li­cised fast liv­ing, the very kind of life­style that seeps through the pages of The Last Bach­e­lor .

McIn­er­ney’s New York makes Sex and the City look like a Dis­ney car­toon. The glam­our and sex are here, sure, but an un­savoury raw­ness runs through McIn­er­ney’s work to dis­turb the glit­tery sur­face.

He has al­ways been at his best, as he is in sev­eral of the sto­ries in The Last Bach­e­lor , when he re­veals the var­i­ous wounds that in­flicts on its in­hab­i­tants.

This con­cern has in­ten­si­fied since the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Septem­ber 11. McIn­er­ney’s pre­vi­ous book, The Good Life ( 2006), is an acute ex­am­i­na­tion of the daily lives of New York­ers in the wake of the at­tacks. McIn­er­ney reached a new level in his writ­ing, and it re­mains one of the most mov­ing ex­am­ples of 9/ 11 fic­tion.

Sev­eral of the char­ac­ters from that and other ear­lier nov­els re­turn in The Last Bach­e­lor, an un­even col­lec­tion in which the ef­fects of Septem­ber 11 linger.

This is most no­table in I Love You, Honey , in which McIn­er­ney writes about a mar­ried cou­ple,

the city

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