Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Review: "Story of My Life" by Jay McInerney
I read a few reviews of Jay McInerney third novel, Story of My Life, and most of them came to the same ideas I did, in that it is a well-written novel, but a very unoriginal one with flimsy ideas and tired traits that presents absolutely nothing new. I was a big fan of McInerney’s first and most famous novel, Bright Lights, Big City, and consider it a greater novel of the 1980’s than Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero. Its brilliant use of second person narration and its focus on emotional decay instead of Ellis’ emotional vacuum really set it apart. It is cursed by being an artifact of a moment like Less Than Zero, but at least it is a really good one. This novel is not. It is in the same vein with an almost identical story. It might have been something to behold in 1988 when it was published, but it has not aged well at all. The character in this novel does have a name, and hers is Alison Poole. She lives in New York City. She hates her father but still takes his money, she doesn’t like the men that she ends up sleeping with and she doesn’t trust her friends not to betray her. The plot is loose, and involves the on again off again relationship with a guy named Dean who tries to be nice to her, but ultimately fails. McInerney’s sense of humor really shines here, since Alison is self-aware about her faults, but can’t seem to gather the energy to rise beyond them. And it is surprising that a story about a woman has such weak female supporting players, with the men, especially the immoral Skip, leaving a more lasting impression. A final revelation in the last few pages doesn’t do this novel much good. I’ve seen it done before much better and way too often.