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BRIGHTNESS FALLS by Jay McInerney

BRIGHTNESS FALLS

By Jay McInerney

Pub Date: June 8th, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-40219-5
Publisher: Knopf

 His own career very much a creation of 80's hype, McInerney here attempts an unironic post-mortem on the era of leveraged buyouts and consumer excess. Not surprisingly, it reads like an apologia pro vita sua, without any of the bite or wit of Bright Lights, Big City. Publishing insiders will no doubt find much of interest in the roman Ö clef aspects of this overwrought saga. Otherwise, it's a pretentious morality tale with all the depth and subtlety of Oliver Stone's Wall Street. ( Both Stone and McInerney thank businessman Ken Lipper for his insider's expertise.) The golden couple at the center of things are Corrine and Russell Calloway, handsome college sweethearts, whose cozy domesticity is envied by their swinging single friends. Though she's a stockbroker, Corrine also works in a soup kitchen and has a ``Mother Teresa syndrome,'' according to her husband. He's a Wunderkind editor at a distinguished publishing house but feels his career is being stymied by his mentor, Harold Stone, ``a former radical intellectual'' who now spends his lunch hour at the Four Seasons. Together with a street-smart, young black editor, Russell and an investment-banker friend plan a hostile takeover of his employer. They enlist the help of Bernie Melman, a short and pudgy corporate raider who eventually sells Russell down the river. So much for the intrigue. McInerney fills out his melodrama with hunks of undigested business chat; a textbook's worth of college-level literary quotations; and pathetic running jokes about exploding breast implants. The personal lives of the key players suffer from predictable problems: infidelity, alcoholism, anorexia, satyriasis, drug addiction, and depression. With all its soap-opera turns, it's hard to take this thirtysomethingish novel seriously. Despite its purple patches, McInerney's latest is more Krantz than Fitzgerald. And he can probably take that to the bank, no matter how much it wounds his literary credit.