Bright, Pre­cious Days

The Week Middle East - - Arts -

by Jay McIn­er­ney

Blooms­bury 416pp £18.99 “Is it pos­si­ble to en­joy and de­spise a novel at the same time?” asked Alice O’Ke­effe in the New States­man. Jay McIn­er­ney’s new of­fer­ing has all the hall­marks of a past-it au­thor “try­ing to re­hash el­e­ments from his great­est hit(s)”. It is the third fic­tional out­ing for the Man­hat­tan “power cou­ple” Rus­sell and Cor­rine Cal­loway, who spend their time as they “move among the elite” at char­ity galas and pre­ten­tious restau­rants, be­moan­ing how pinched their lives are. The plot is silly, the char­ac­ters dis­like­able – yet there’s no deny­ing McIn­er­ney has an “eye for the ridicu­lous and an in­fec­tious sense of fun”.

There’s cer­tainly an odd charm in the way he sends up “the glitzy world” he’s so “self­con­grat­u­la­tory about in­hab­it­ing”, said An­thony Cum­mins in The Sun­day Tele­graph. Smug and ab­surd as it is, this is still a novel you “can’t help wolf­ing down”. No it isn’t, said Alex Pre­ston in The Ob­server, it’s a lazy, clichéd book that “lurches from party to party like a gin-drunk so­cialite”. McIn­er­ney’s prose was once vig­or­ous and “spiky”. To­day he sounds like an “au­thor who’d much rather be do­ing some­thing else”.

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