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Brightness Falls

Posted 6 August 2002, 3.13 am by The_Roach

Brightness Falls
by Jay McInerney
Knopf, 1992

Every once in a while, a book comes along that totally realigns your perspective on the world. Brightness Falls is not one of these books.

The story follows a married couple and their friends through their lives in New York City during the year 1987. A time and place in which God was replaced by Dow Jones, yuppie mentality pervaded every level of society that could afford it, and (judging by the author's analysis through his characters) literature was at an all time low. Russell and Corrine Carroway seem to have the matrimony thing pretty well worked out, something that none of their peers seem to be managing themselves.

Of course, it wouldn't be an interesting novel without some sense of conflict. Russell, an editor at a prestigious publishing house, determines that he (nor art) is recieving the kind of attention deserved from his superiors and makes a risky attempt at hostile takeover by way of a leveraged buyout. As his power and status grow, he becomes distanced from his wife and begins to let his eye wander.

At it's core, the novel attempts to bear the ancient theme of hubris causing the downfall of it's protagonist. Sadly, it's attempt to decry excessive ambition in the face of unsurmountable (and unnecessary) odds is hampered by that same sort of ambition, as McInerney attempts to connect every social, economic and political issue of the time to the protagonist, a feat far better accomplished by the still mediocre Forrest Gump four years earlier. Though, in Brightness Falls' defense, perhaps it's easier to cover decades in this fashion than a single year.

The real bright side to this, however, is what falls between the cracks. Rumors mentioned in passing get changed and referenced throughout the book, like some literary version of the child's game "Telephone". Many of the characters (especially Corrine) are very believable, even those who only make brief appearances once or twice in the book manage to stay in memory for quite some time. One supporting character has even become the basis for my own literary dream. He writes one great book once, and then lives off of free lunches from editors while scamming additional advances on his second novel for over twenty years.

Will I read it again? Probably not. The most likely chance of that happenening is if I were to somehow forget that I read it the first time. It was a fairly enjoyable book, despite it's failings and worth a page through, if only while sitting on the toilet.

Buy it at amazon

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Doggybag/baggy_dog is an artist living and working in Barga, Italy. Click here to read about this piece in his own words.

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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness


80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!


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