Jay McInerney’s latest book, “Bright, Precious Days,” picks up the story of Russell and Corrine Calloway, whose great love affair and marriage was the subject of two earlier novels. Now they’re in their 50s, their union intact but not without a few strains.
Russell, an independent publisher, is dealing with two problematic writers and is on the verge of going broke. Corrine, who has given up a good-paying job to raise their twins, is itching to move out of their rented Tribeca loft to the suburbs for more space and better schools.
To complicate matters, her fabulously wealthy former lover shows up unexpectedly in a last-ditch bid to woo her away from Russell, and their kids are reeling from the discovery that they were conceived with the help of an egg donor.
Sound a little soapy? Well, it is, with some cliched language and predictable plot twists. But it’s also irresistible, brimming with McInerney’s tour de force takedowns of tribal Manhattan, from the Upper East Side ladies who lunch to the latest crop of reckless young bohemians, as eager to make their mark as Russell, Corrine and their pals were in their youth.
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These days, though, all their women friends have eating disorders, while the men take Cialis, especially when they’re planning to patronize their favorite high-end brothel. By contrast, Russell and Corrine have struggled to stay true to their principles, though Corrine wonders at times if getting an eye lift would constitute selling out.
Ever since his breakout novel, “Bright Lights, Big City,” McInerney has been fascinated by the collision of fame, fortune and talent on the “skinny, wealthy island” of Manhattan. “Bright, Precious Days” continues that exploration, with an engaging cast of characters acutely aware of how quickly their time is passing. Reading it is a guilty pleasure.
“Bright, Precious Days”
By Jay McInerney
Alfred A. Knopf, 416 pages