January 31, 2006

A "trashily facile" novel about "the rich and overprivileged, grotesquely set against the backdrop of 9/11."

Jay McInerney -- that 80s hipster of a novelist -- has a new novel. Michiko Kakutani has a review:
"The Good Life," in contrast, is at its most powerful in chronicling its characters' romantic and familial travails, and at its most ham-handed in its attempts at social satire. Indeed the novel is a bizarre mix of the genuinely moving and the trashily facile, the psychologically astute and the ridiculously clich├ęd; part of it aspires to create an F. Scott Fitzgerald-esque romance, and part sags to the level of a Judith Krantz tale about the rich and overprivileged, grotesquely set against the backdrop of 9/11....

These sections of "The Good Life," which often lie submerged amid pages and pages of embarrassing writing, suggest that the author has both the desire and the ability to move beyond the glibness of his recent fiction and to tackle more than facile chronicles of fizzy life in the fast lane. In fact, this flawed novel suggests that just as so many of Mr. McInerney's characters dream of reinventing themselves, so, perhaps, is the author struggling to find a way to reinvent himself as a writer.
Too bad these author struggles don't take the form of doing another draft -- I say glibly, from the safety of my place in a writing form that is all about forgoing drafts.

4 comments:

ISLAND MONKEY said...

Judging by the quality of the writing of Kakutani which you publish here I don't think Mr McInerney will be losing much sleep over his credibility as a writer.
Perhaps I could review her writing.
Kakutani tells us nothing here and appears to be devoid of originality, intelligence and wit.

Elizabeth said...

I can live a very happy life without ever reading another word by Jay McInerney or Brett Easton Ellis. Ellis bragged in a late 80s Esquire interview that "no edits me!" Really? Can't tell.

wildaboutharrie said...

LOL, Elizabeth, you need an editor!

Craig Ranapia said...

Now I'd have to say putting the words "trasy", "facile" and "Jay McInerney" in the same sentence hardly requires the citical acumen of Henry James or Edmund Wilson. But it's one of the small mysteries of life why a prestige piece of media real estate like the NYTimes can't attrack a a chief critic, as opposed to a facile blurb writer who doesn't so much write as extrude cliches like a demented sausage machine. Couldn't they poach Terry Teachout from the WSJ, or headhunt someone from the wonderful book pages that seem to commonplace in the British boradsheets & magazines like The Spectator - lively, opinionated but informed, and always with a point of view?