Of all American metropolises, New York has become one of the most interesting and representative cities for writers, some of whom, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have tried to reflect in their fiction the consequences of this traumatic event. In this essay I want to deal with one of these novels, Jay McInerney’s The Good Life (2006), which uses the image of a “broken” New York after the attacks as a metaphor for a society that, for a while, had its social rules and organization deeply altered. McInerney’s fiction is inextricably linked to New York since his main novels, Bright Lights, Big City (1984), whose first edition cover had featured the Twin Towers, Story of My Life (1988), Brightness Falls (1992), Model Behaviour (1998) and, of course, The Good Life (2006), are all set in New York and deal with Manhattan’s narcissistic and shallow upper classes. The author’s interest in superficiality, money, sex and drugs aroused the suspicion of some literary critics, who believed the 9/11 subject was too serious to be handled by a social satirist like McInerney, who has often been accused of sharing the values of the same wealthy and shallow New York socialites he vividly portrays. However, McInerney seems to have changed his style and has constructed a touching story in which the physical disintegration of the city causes the temporal disintegration of the glitterati’s narcissistic values. In this essay I will analyse to what extent McInerney’s eye for social satire, together with his portrayal of Manhattan as a theatre of social action, brings forth one of the most vivid representations of the effects of terrorism in New York.
The literary critics’ misgivings about the novel cannot be understood without briefly reviewing McInerney’s career as a writer. In 1984 the author hit the bestseller lists with his debut novel Bright Lights, Big City about a young aspiring writer who works as a fact checker at a prestigious New York magazine. At night he spends his time in nightclubs and bars, consumes cocaine and has casual sexual encounters. McInerney’s interest in sex, drugs and morally corrupt characters linked him to two other young writers, Tama Janowitz and Bret Easton Ellis, and together they came to be known as the “Brat Pack.” At the time, the label was usually attached to a young generation of actors like Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson and Emilio Estevez, who had starred in very popular teenpics. In 1988 Bruce Bawer applied the term to a group of writers who, just like the Hollywood Brat Pack, had in common their being young, overly hyped and who shared an excessive sense of their own importance. Their works combined a minimalist style with a focus on urban angst and the surface details of contemporary phenomena (Bawer 16). As in the case of the other Brat Pack members, McInerney’s loose lifestyle as a literary celebrity has marked his career and the way his novels have been received.
Apart from the original Brat Pack label, McInerney is also considered part of Blank Fiction, a term which was first used in 1992 by Elizabeth Young and Graham Caveney. According to James Annesley (1998), Blank Fiction writers deal with contemporary urban life and violence, indulgence, crime, sexual excess, media overload, decadence, drugs, consumerism and commerce. Excess is a key term in their novels since they draw their material from the extreme particularities of the 1980s and 1990s. Postmodernity and late 20th-century life are vividly portrayed through references to all aspects of consumer culture: specific products, labels and celebrity names build up the superficialities of the time. Instead of using dense plots and elaborate styles, they favour a blank style and a flat, affectless, atonal prose. Although the subjects they deal with are usually very controversial, they tend to choose first-person narrators that keep a distance from the morally despicable acts described and who do not usually condemn them. This distance is one of the most criticized aspects of Blank Fiction.
McInerney shares with other Blank Fiction writers his choice of subjects and his interest in the lifestyle of the vapid urban upper classes, but his style is more satirical and his characters are not as morally vacant as Bret Easton Ellis’s, his best friend and quintessential Blank Fiction writer. However, his image as a bon vivant is strong and most reviewers of The Good Life mentioned it. For example, in The Village Voice Benjamin Strong noted that it was difficult to approach the novel without making reference to McInerney’s well-documented hedonism and his “smug, bespoke-suited public persona—the rail-blowing, model-dating, sommelier-in-a-club-chair frat boy.” In The San Francisco Chronicle Heller McAlpin also considered that the author had been personally drawn to the self-destructive excesses of the high life he satirises in his fiction. As a result of these initial preconceptions, some reviewers accused McInerney of being too charmed and fascinated by the people he intended to criticise (Caldwell; Parini) and of being magnetised by the worlds of celebrity and fashion (Mars-Jones). For some other reviewers, this fascination made it impossible for the author to construct a story in which the privileged Manhattanites realized the superficiality of their values since “the author so clearly cherishes every upscale item and behavior that he thinks he deplores” (Mallon). In the same line, Paul Gray in The New York Times and Louis Menand in The New Yorker concluded that McInerney found his characters both fascinating and blameless and expected his readers to do the same.
In spite of this criticism, The Good Life shows a new direction in McInerney’s career. He still deals with the upper classes and many of his characters are morally vacant socialites but the main characters in the story are aware of the shortcomings of their social atmosphere. In the novel, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks gives way to important social changes and part of McInerney’s ironic distance and satire is softened in the chronicling of the romance between Corrine and Luke. McInerney himself announced in The Guardian that his blank style would have to change to face the topic of his new novel (“The Uses”). This article was a response to VS Naipaul, who had declared in an interview for The New York Times that only nonfiction could capture the complexities of today’s world. For the Nobel Prize winner fiction falsifies reality and it is of no account since the world cannot be contained in the novel (qtd. in Donadio). In his response McInerney defended fiction from these attacks. He admitted that, after 9/11, fiction had seemed inadequate for a while but by 2005 people wanted to have a novelist process the experience. McInerney claimed that he had to confront the most important and traumatic event in the history of New York, which had always been his proper subject. However, he also admitted that he had to change his style to do it: “At the very least, certain forms of irony and social satire in which I’d trafficked no longer seemed useful. I felt as if I was starting over and I wasn’t sure I could” (“The Uses”). When the New York 9/11 terrorist attacks took place, many commentators claimed that it meant “the end of the end of history” (Zakaria), “the end of irony” (Gordon), “the death of irony” (Rosenblatt) or “the death of postmodernism,” (Bennett) whereas others believed that irony was what Americans needed most (Fish; Beers; Didion). McInerney offers in the novel some of his usual social satire but also some ethical guidance, since we see how the physical disintegration of the city parallels the temporal disintegration of the glitterati’s narcissistic values.
It is interesting that in order to change his style the author chooses to continue the story of the main characters in one of his previous books, Brightness Falls (1992). This book was the story of Corrine and Russell, a yuppie couple who pursue successful careers in New York in the 1980s, Russell as an editor and Corrine as a stockbroker. The excesses of the 1980s that engulf them—drug addiction, AIDs, casual sex and conspicuous consumerism—together with their ambition, come to an end on 19th October, 1987, when the 1980s bubble bursts with the Wall Street crash. In The Good Life we find the same couple ten years later about to face a different crash: the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Russell Calloway, still an editor, Corrine Calloway, now a housewife, and their 6-year-old twins live in a rented loft in TriBeCa and are “trying to subsist on less than two hundred and fifty grand a year” (18). Their path will cross with that of another wealthier family: Luke McGavock, an ex-investment banker, his wife Sasha, a professional beauty and socialite, and Ashley, their teenage precocious daughter, who live on the Upper East Side and enjoy a seven-figure income. Although both couples seem wealthy enough the money they earn and where they live set them apart in the pre-9/11 status-conscious Manhattan. On 12th September, 2001 Luke and Corrine meet and start volunteering at a soup kitchen to feed rescue workers. As they fall in love and start an adulterous affair their world changes completely and so does the geography of the city and the social difference it had entailed.
Guy Debord considered the city the locus of history because of its concentration of social power and its consciousness of the past. In fact, he even claimed that universal history was born in cities (124-125). Of all cities, New York has established itself as an image and symbol for America since it contains its contradictions and both the dream of success and the risk of failure. Writers have helped construct this symbolic image through the many representations of the city in literature. As Shaun O’Connell states:
The pressures of New York have lent the city’s literature a rare intensity. The tests, personal and public, imposed by the City upon its residents, new and old, have made it America’s most interesting and revealing city for writers. (307)
The Twin Towers were New York landmarks and a symbol of US power. Michael Sorkin and Sharon Zukin have called them “fluorescent chessboards against the black night sky” and “the Everest of our urban Himalayas” (vii). They were a symbolic reference but also a geographical sign since many New Yorkers looked for them in the sky to find their way downtown. The collapse of the Twin Towers altered New York’s geography and brought chaos to an ordered world in which boundaries had been clearly established. According to Lewis Mumford, alterations in the city affect the behaviour of its inhabitants since the city is a theatre of social action and an aesthetic symbol of collective unity. As he claimed:
The physical organization of the city may deflate this drama or make it frustrate; or it may, through the deliberate efforts of art, politics, and education, make the drama more richly significant, as a stage-set, well-designed, intensifies and underlines the gestures of the actors and the action of the play. (480-1)
The collapse of the towers deflates the drama in the theatre of the city. Suddenly people are at a loss because the roles they used to play are changed by the enormity of the events. Facing the threat of personal disintegration, Luke and Corrine suspend their daily routine to find a new sense of purpose at the soup kitchen at Bowling Green.
In The Good Life, the geography of the city and its role as a theatre of social action is clearly established from the very beginning. The Calloways live in TriBeCa in an old, small, tunnel-style loft. They moved there in 1990 before the process of gentrification of lower Manhattan and they have not benefited from it because they didn’t buy but rented the loft. As a result, it is now too small for the couple and their twins. However, the idea of moving from Manhattan to Brooklyn or Pelham is something Russell refuses to accept. On the other hand, the McGavocks are further up in the social scale as they live on the Upper East Side. Their double-height living room seems “to be holding its breath, as if awaiting a crew from Architectural Digest or House & Garden to set up and shoot” (27), even though Sasha wants to change their Biedermeier neoclassical decoration because it looks too mid-nineties. Luke has also rented a little studio over on Seventy-sixth to write a book about samurai films and they also have a place in the Hamptons. This lifestyle is apparently about to come to an end because Luke has decided to take a sabbatical, which has made Sasha alarmed at the prospect of a declining standard of living. Sasha lives in a world in which the people she knows do “the three-house thing—one place an hour outside the city and another in the Hamptons for the summer” (202). The previous year she had wanted to move to 740 Park, where one of her wealthy friends lives, even though the apartment had been smaller and on a lower floor. The short address is
resonant with talismanic significance in her rarefied world. This simple address on an ecru Crane note card consecrated the embossee as an Olympian who had attained the heights of Manhattan social aspiration. (213)
Social identity is inextricably linked to place-identity in the novel. Proshansky, Fabian and Kaminoff define place-identity as a “pot-pourri of memories, conceptions, interpretations, ideas, and related feelings about specific physical settings, as well as types of settings” (60). Place-identity is a factor that contributes to the formation of self-identity together with gender, race or social class. In the novel place-identity is an obvious component of social class. In fact, geographical space defines social identity to the extent that geographical references are used to describe people’s dressing style. For dinner Russell wears a stripy English dress shirt with a blazer and jeans, which Corrine finds “[v]ery Upper East Side at home for the evening” (18). Washington looks “very downtown, black suit over a black shirt with a seriously long and pointy collar—black on black on black” (34). Ray Levine, a neighbour of the Calloways is “the very image of a downtown ad guy with his salt-and-pepper goatee, black turtleneck, and black jeans” (108). For the pre-Christmas lunch at “21” Sasha is dressed “conservatively, Upper East Side matronly, in a tweedy vintage Chanel suit, accessorized with a single string of grape-size pearls” (346). The use of place references to pigeonhole people and describe their dressing style underlines the close connection between geographical boundaries and social boundaries.
In the novel the events of 9/11 destroy all these neighbourhood niches and social conventions for a while. According to Zulaika and Douglas, the real efficacy of terrorism lies in its power to provoke disruptions of the existing order and in creating media spectacles by attacking symbolic buildings (76, 84). In a way, the World Trade Centre represented both the economic power of the city and its symbolic power. In the novel its collapse makes many New Yorkers believe they are witnessing the beginning of the end of the whole idea of the city. Suddenly, the city seems fragile because of the bomb threats, chemical scares, the sirens… Due to this symbolic function, the collapse of the World Trade Centre distorts the whole city. Police barricades are established at Fourteenth Street, isolating the whole downtown area. As the love affair between Luke and Corrine develops, the barricades keep moving down from Fourteenth Street to Canal Street, then down to Chambers, ending the siege of Corrine’s neighbourhood. The day before Thanksgiving they close the soup kitchen where Luke and Corrine have been volunteering. In a way, that closing also marks the end of their affair, turning the distance between TriBeCa and the Upper East Side into an insurmountable barrier again.
The changes in the city affect its own divisions in a literal way, through the barricades, but also in a metaphorical way, through the flow of people going both uptown and downtown. In contrast to the initial chapters, in which the worlds of TriBeCa and the Calloways and the Upper East Side and the McGavocks were presented in separate unconnected chapters, after the attacks “the borders had gotten porous, at least until the eleventh, when the word downtown had acquired an ominous new meaning” (223). The downtown area and the soup kitchen suddenly become the centre of Manhattan and both the wealthy and the less socially favoured are drawn towards it. From the day of the attacks, Luke’s thoughts tend downtown (79) and, as the story develops, Luke feels protected there with Corrine. In fact, every morning after their night shift at the soup kitchen he panics at the thought of going back uptown (168).
The physical changes in the city boundaries also bring about important social changes. As Lewis Mumford claimed, the city’s
unified plans and buildings become a symbol of their social relatedness; and when the physical environment itself becomes disordered and incoherent, the social functions that it harbors become more difficult to express. (481)
In this sense, the soup kitchen becomes a melting pot where social differences are unimportant. Obviously, Corrine shares with Luke “a certain tribal sense of identity, affinities of background and education that weren’t supposed to matter anymore, at this leveling moment” (94). The real levelling is seen in the range of people they meet at the soup kitchen. Its main organiser is a carpenter who embraces and accepts Luke “despite his Bean boots, chinos, and rugby shirt, some Upper East Side dilettante” (93). Corrine feels especially close to Captain Davies, a policeman from Brooklyn:
Until a few days ago, the chances of their sharing a cup of coffee together would have been astronomically remote, but by now Corrine knew a great deal about Davies’s family, his boat, and the intricacies and inanities of the NYPD pension plan. (95)
The range of the volunteers includes a Russian exotic dancer who is recovering from her latest boob job, a hippie girl from Brooklyn who works as an herb gardener in Prospect Park, an insurance adjuster who commands a National Guard contingent camped out in Battery Park and three young women who work at Ralph Lauren. When Luke visits his family, who live a few miles south of Franklin and who think Luke has become a city snob, he is eager to tell them about the demographic range of his new acquaintances.
The attraction that Ground Zero exerts is also satirised in the book. In fact, McInerney’s eye for social satire is undeniable and most reviewers saw it as one of the highlights of the novel (McAlpin; Block; McKenzie; Zipp; Bailey; Matthews). The shallowness of some upscale New Yorkers does not come to an end with 9/11; in fact, as a way to recover consumer confidence, they were encouraged to go out, shop, and eat in expensive restaurants. New York Magazine published an article detailing 17 ways to help New York since “eating and drinking and theatergoing and spending (not to mention giving and volunteering) are the patriotic duty of all who consider themselves New Yorkers” (“New York”). The socialites in The Good Life take their “patriotic duty” all too seriously. For example, Casey, a crass socialite and friend of Corrine’s, has gone “to the Ralph Lauren boutique to do her bit for the city’s traumatized economy, just as the mayor had advised everyone to do” (92). After the attacks, publicists and party-planners cancelled or rescheduled parties in New York because they felt people were not in the mood for partying. A mood also reflected in the novel when Sasha and other socialites fear that the autumn benefits may have to be cancelled. However, they become suddenly interested in the soup kitchen when they realise that they can do a joint benefit for the soup kitchen and the ballet.
Gaining access to Ground Zero has also become a sign of social status and power, as we notice when Sasha’s friends compete to get a pass down to Ground Zero. For example, we learn that the Portmans got “a tour” because he is a big Republican donor (181). In the same line, the new must-have fashion item for Manhattanites is a Cipro prescription. One month after the attacks panicked patients were asking their doctors for Cipro prescriptions as a result of the mail-based anthrax attacks. In an article written in October, 2001 we could read that Stephen Kurtin, an Upper East Side dermatologist, had written more than 100 prescriptions for Cipro (Kaufman). Since these prescriptions were not easy to get, in the novel they become the perfect present party hosts can offer their guests. As wealthy Casey proudly explains:
I was at Minky Rijstaefal’s for dinner—you know Minky; her husband’s Tom Harwell, the plastic surgeon—and it was so sweet: Folded inside the name cards at the table, we all had prescriptions for Cipro. (212-3)
The attacks have not changed socialites’s wish to buy the very best but now their choice is not between a Louis Vuitton or a Gucci bag but a Marine Corps or a Israeli combat-grade gas mask (212). Circumstances have changed but the behaviour of some self-absorbed New Yorkers has not.
Apart from these touches of social satire, McInerney reflects especially well two moods of the moment: the sense of community and the need to leave the city. In The New Yorker Louis Menand noted that New York turned into a small town after 9/11, the asymmetries of metropolitan life disappeared and people made eye contact. McInerney had already noticed this trend in an article published four days after the attacks. In his description of what he had witnessed and the way the city had changed, McInerney underlined the way New Yorkers had left behind their capacity for jaded equanimity and felt part of a community (“Brightness Falls”). This change in the city may have led McInerney to the belief that he had to change his blank style in the novel. After all, Blank Fiction novels usually depict mass society, which, according to Dominic Strinati, “consists of atomised people, people who lack any meaningful or morally coherent relationship with each other” (6). The links in mass society are contractual, distant and sporadic instead of communal and well integrated. There is no sense of community to provide values and, as a result, people in mass society turn to fake moralities and find in mass culture and mass consumption “the moral placebos of a mass society” (7).
In a way, this is the society McInerney presents in the novel before the attacks, but both Corrine and Luke have always felt outsiders in the jaded mass society of New York. Corrine hates about the city “how you were supposed to be cool and take for granted the awe-inspiring people and events you’d fantasized about back home in Altoona or Amherst” (10). Luke also feels like a social outsider in the life that her socialite wife wants to lead. The night before 9/11 they attend a charity benefit at the central park zoo where
[t]he women were beautiful in their gowns, or at least glamorous in their beautiful gowns, their escorts rich in this richest of all cities, and Luke had never felt less like one of them, reminded now of the figures he’d seen this summer in Pompeii and Herculaneum, frozen in their postures of feasting and revelry. (59)
Both Luke and Corrine feel that their couples are too jaded and that the city has destroyed any innocence they may have shown in the past. Corrine misses the sensitive and insecure Russell she met at Brown University, who was intimidated by native New Yorkers (104). Luke longs for Sasha’s past provincial enthusiasm for the city and her appetite for the more innocent pleasures it provided, before she became “the epitome of a certain rarefied type of urban sophisticate” (87).
Some critics claimed that the banality of Luke and Corrine’s affair is at odds with the enormity of the cataclysm of 9/11 (Matthews; Reese); however, Luke and Corrine’s dramatic meet-cute is in a way the result of the new sense of collective identity, purpose and intimacy that invades New York. After the attacks Luke spends the night digging at Ground Zero because he was supposed to meet a friend for breakfast at Windows on the World the morning of 9/11. Luke cancelled at the last minute and fears his friend never got the message and is somewhere under the burning rubble. Covered in ash, Luke meets Corrine, who offers him not just a bottle of water but a bottle of Evian—this is after all a novel by Jay McInerney and brand names do find their way into the novel. She gives him her telephone number and asks him to phone her once he has made it home safely. A connection between two needed strangers is established in a city where strangers used to be too jaded and distrustful to speak to each other: this is the spirit of wartime camaraderie which is all over the city. Even though they had not talked for a year due to a domestic dispute, the Calloways are invited to share a meal at their neighbours’ penthouse the night of the attacks (108). When Russell’s building is evacuated because of a bomb scare there is “a sense of collective identity and purpose on the anarchic impulses of the urbanites” (125). In this atmosphere it is only normal that the wartime intimacy and camaraderie of Luke and Corrine should turn into a love affair.
As part of this general sense of community, there is also a strong need to leave the city for the suburbs, which become the place to find a face-to-face community of identifiable people. Some of Luke and Sasha’s acquaintances are moving out to their houses at the Hamptons, and Russell’s friend Washington and his family decide to move to New Canaan. Corrine’s mother wants them to leave New York and move to Massachusetts, an idea that Russell has also considered, but among the simple articles of his faith is the belief that “lawn care and commuting were incompatible with the higher pursuits, that the metropolis was the source of the life force” (125). This philosophy is best summarised when Ashley decides she does not want to study in New York but in Tennessee. She tells her mother that there is life outside of New York but Sasha’s answer is clear enough:
There’s life on the bottom of the ocean, Ashley, but fortunately for us, our ancestors crawled up on the beach and developed lungs and feet, not to mention hand-stitched Italian footwear.(364)
The suburbs and the countryside are seen in the novel as a place of innocence. This is especially obvious in the case of Ashley, who after overdosing flees to her grandmother’s house in Tennessee, where she becomes aware of the superficialities of the city and its upper classes. The quiet life and family bonds she finds in the rural and natural landscape at her grandmother’s home lead her to a crystal-clear conclusion: “I don’t want to be a selfish bitch […] I want to be a good person, like Gran” (336).
However, for most people life still turns around the metropolis, and the idea of moving to the suburbs or the countryside horrifies them. Lewis Mumford found these instincts justifiable since “in its various and many-sided life, in its very opportunities for social disharmony and conflict, the city creates drama; the suburb lacks it” (481). Both the Calloways and the McGavocks decide to stay in the city and resume their life. Russell and Corrine organise a dinner similar to the one opening the book. However, there are some important changes in the list of invited friends and in their attitude towards life. Jim Crespi died in the attacks and his widow, Judy, has become a much more sensitive and less shallow person. Hilary, Corrine’s promiscuous sister, comes with Dan O’Connor, a policeman she met when visiting Corrine at the soup kitchen and who has left his family for her. From the soup kitchen also comes an overdressed Jerry, the carpenter who opened the soup kitchen and who is the first to leave the party. Washington and Veronica are also there but now they are about to move to New Canaan and start a new life. The McGavocks also return to the social scene and attend the pre-Christmas lunch at “21,” but there are some noticeable changes as well. Both Ashley and Luke can see through the superficiality of the event and the people who attend it. Ashley is much more confident after her stay in Tennessee and does not need her mother’s approval as to her dressing style. Luke sees people with a distance:
It all seemed a little unreal to him, like some tableau from the distant past; the centre of Luke’s city had shifted south, to a downtown loft he’d never seen but which he’d measured and furnished in his mind. . . . (343)
The changes in the city have also brought forth changes in their lives and their personal horizons.
The end of the novel brings us back to Mumford’s idea of the city as a theatre. The “stage” is the Lincoln Center Plaza where the Calloways and the McGavocks finally meet. Neither Luke nor Corrine have told the other that they plan to go the ballet to see “The Nutcracker” with their families. In the middle of the plaza Luke sees Sasha walking towards him and notices that Corrine is just five feet to her left. Corrine and Russell become to Luke’s eyes “an enviably handsome family that appeared, from this distance, to illustrate some cosmopolitan ideal” (367). He also remembers something his mother had told him, that love involved putting someone else’s well-being ahead of your desires, and decides to let Corrine go. The two families end up bumping into each other and both Corrine and Luke feel embarrassed for having lied to each other. The situation is presented in both theatrical and dramatic terms: “In that moment, the nighttime plaza with all its swirling throng blurred and faded as if engulfed in a sudden storm of sand or snow” (369). Luke’s last thoughts bring us back to the centrality of the city and its power. He hopes they will meet again in the city as one used to in New York “before the idea of the protean city as eternal and indestructible had been called into doubt” (370). He imagines the city again as a backdrop to the dramas of daily life and he takes “comfort in that vision of the city as the setting for a future encounter with Corrine, and in the fact that he could imagine it now” (370).
The Good Life is an urban novel that focuses on the lives of the privileged Manhattanites and glitterati. The subject is characteristic of Blank Fiction literature and, taking into account McInerney’s career, it was to be expected that there would be plenty of name-dropping, brand names, consumerism, drugs and shallowness. The fact that this is a post-9/11 novel and is set against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks affects the way McInerney deals with these common topics in his fiction. 9/11 did not cause the “death of irony” or the “death of postmodernism” but it is undeniable that McInerney constructed a touching and sincere story in which social satire is accompanied by romance. Luke and Corrine are not morally faultless but, by contrasting them with their more shallow partners, they are morally grounded. Through their eyes we see the way the terrorist attacks softened jaded New Yorkers and broke with the rigid social system and its niches. For a while, the physical disintegration of the city also put an end to narcissistic values and made people feel part of a community rather than a mass society of isolated people. 9/11 may not have been the end of all Blank Fiction but, in the case of Jay McInerney, it softened his style, making it less ironic and less blank.
“Post-9/11 New York: Jay McInerney’s The Good Life (2006)” was first published in Literature of New York, edited by Sabrina Fuchs-Abrams (Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2009)
Sonia Baelo-Allué is an associate professor at the University of Zaragoza (Spain), where she primarily teaches U.S. literature. Her current research centers on trauma studies and 9/11 fiction. She has published Bret Easton Ellis’s Controversial Fiction: Writing between High and Low Culture (Continuum, 2011) and co-edited The Splintered Glass: Facets of Trauma in the Post-Colony and Beyond (Rodopi, 2011) and Between the Urge to Know and the Need to Deny: Trauma and Ethics in Contemporary British and American Literature (C. Winter, 2011). She is also co-editor of Miscelánea: A Journal of English and American Studies.
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The research carried out for the writing of this essay has been financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology (MCYT) and the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), in collaboration with the Aragonese Government (no. HUM2007-61035/FILO). I also want to thank the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin for awarding me a grant to carry out research at the Institute’s library.