'Bright Lights, Big City' Author Jay McInerney Talks Fame and Faking It


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The author famous for “Bright Lights Big City” talks about fame, Flannery and faking it – and what he thinks about most. 

New Yorker Jay McInerney cemented his fame with the cultural phenomenon of the 1980s, “Bright Lights, Big City”. Eleven books followed, including “Brightness Falls” and his latest, “Bright, Precious Days,” volume three in a series that chronicles the financial, social and marital ups and downs of Manhattan professionals Russell and Corrine Calloway. 

You continue mining the theme of happiness. Define happiness. It’s taken me many pages to even begin to address the question, like hundreds. For me happiness is kind of three-pronged – fulfillment in your work, your romantic life, and your family. I think if you’ve got 2 ½ half of those you’re doing well. That’s sort of what Russell and Corrine are struggling with.

Why do you keep writing about them?  I find it really intriguing in fiction as well as in life to follow people through time. I’m pretty sure we’re going to see them at least one more time.

Like you, they live in New York, which you’ve said is the only place you truly feel at home. Why? I moved constantly when I was growing up so I didn’t really have a hometown. But when I finally arrived in New York, in my 20s, it was IT. It was the most exciting place, the most dynamic, the most energetic, the most stimulating, and full of people like me who were young and ambitious and energetic who had come from all over the world to be together. This sort of tribe of restless strivers who are drawn to the lights of the City.  

Why are you a New Yorker? You didn’t grow up there. New York is a place where you don’t need to be born there to belong. I love the South, but either you’re a southerner or not. It’s not something you can adopt or become, whereas you can become a New Yorker if you sort of land there and stay until somebody asks you directions.

Ever been to Savannah? I have. It’s a wonderful city and has a lot of artistic energy. From what I’ve seen and heard it seems to be more welcoming and tolerant and diverse than other parts of the state and South.

You’ve written about Flannery O’Connor. Are you a fan? One of the greatest American writers. She took her slice of the world and made it representative of all human experience. Her vision was unclouded by sort of cheap emotions or sentimentality. She had a very clear vision of her faith which made her quite clear sighted about good and evil in the universe. And she was not an equivocator.

You’ve talked about faking it and trying on different selves to find your authentic self. Have you found yours? I’ve sort of created the persona and grown into it. I’m very secure in who I am because, you know, I’ve had an awful lot of years to practice.

Do you really go out every night in New York City? 

To find out why Jay McInerney goes out every night in New York City and more, subscribe now or pick up the February/March issue of South Magazine.

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Events Calendar

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Scenes of the South

2018 Savannah Mile

Hundreds of service members and their families joined with community neighbors and volunteers for this annual One-Mile Run yo support The 200 club of the Coastal Empire. Participants run North on Drayton Street for one mile to nd at the Finish Line on Broughton Street. The 200 club provides resources and financial support for families who have had a loved one killed or injured in the line of duty.

Lowcountry Annie Oakleys Charity Clay Tournament

The third annual Annie Oakley's Charity Clay Tournament and After Party took place on September 29. The event benefited the Dwaine and Cynthia Willett Children's Hospital in Savannah. The day began at 11:30 a.m. with the driven bird flurry contest. Later that afternoon, the shotgun start kicked off the 100-shot tournament. The after party that evening was open to non-shooters alike, where cocktails, drinks and hors d'oeuvres from Cotton & Rye were served.

Savannah Salutes Empower Health After Party

More than four hundred service members representing every branch of the military from all over the country congregated in Savannah to Savannah to provide no cost Health Care to thousands of Savannah residents as a part of the Empower Health Innovative Readiness Training program initiated by the Department of Defense. The Savannah Salute event was hosted on May 20 at the Savannah Civic Center to celebrate the success of the program and thank all involved.

5th Annual Nine Line Run for the Wounded 5k/10k

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Empower Health Distinguished Visitor Event

A group of distinguished visitors from the Pentagon and White House joined several military members who were a part of the Empower Health Readiness Training Initiative to provide no cost healthcare to the Savannah community from May 10 -18. The event was hosted by Edgar's Proof and Provision at the DeSoto and guests enjoyed a casual evening of fellowship and fun.

2018 SCAD Sand Arts Festival

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2018 Savannah Doggie Carnival

The 18th Annual Doggie Carnival welcomed hundreds of pet lovers and owner on Sunday, May 6, 2018 in Forsyth Park. This family-friendly festival featured fun for humans and canines alike with all proceeds benefit the Humane Society for Greater Savannah

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