Wednesday, April 11, 2007

C'est Ne Pas La Vie


Though the end of the Cold War meant a drying up of material for thriller writers, 9/11 had them rushing back to their keyboards. But lo and behold, others jumped on board too, and today you can’t throw a stone in a bookstore without striking a sensitive volume dealing with the aftermath of that day.

With The Good Life, former bratpacker Jay McInerney joins the gang. It deals with well-heeled Manhattan couples Russell and Corrine (first seen in Brightness Falls) and Luke and Sasha. Luke, a former financial whizkid, has taken time off for contemplation; working in a shelter near Ground Zero, he encounters Corrinne. Their affair and its consequences make up the rest.

All McInerney’s trademarks are present: brand, celebrity and restaurant name dropping, satirical small talk, cool prose. Readable enough, though towards the end, a descent into mawkishness and a pastoral idyll make things decidedly syrupy. The terrorist attack fades into the background, becoming no more than a device with which to explore old preoccupations. Which is a bit…tacky.

Worth your while? If reading about Manhattan’s social butterflies pinned down by 9/11 is your bag, you’d be better off with Claire Messud’s elegant The Emperor’s Children.

No comments: