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The Good Life | [Jay McInerney]

The Good Life

Posed with astonishing understanding and compassion, these questions power a novel rich with characters and events, both comic and harrowing, revelatory about not only New York after the attacks but also the toll taken on those lucky enough to have survived them. Wise, surprising, and, ultimately, heart-stoppingly redemptive, The Good Life captures lives that allow us to see, through personal, social, and moral complexity, more clearly into the heart of things.
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Publisher's Summary

Clinging to a semiprecarious existence in TriBeCa, Corrine and Russell Calloway have survived a separation and are thoroughly wonderstruck by young twins whose provenance is nothing less than miraculous, even as they contend with the faded promise of a marriage tinged with suspicion and deceit. Meanwhile, several miles uptown and perched near the top of the Upper East Side's social register, Luke McGavock has postponed his accumulation of wealth in an attempt to recover the sense of purpose now lacking in a life that often gives him pause, especially with regard to his teenage daughter, whose wanton extravagance bears a horrifying resemblance to her mother's. But on a September morning, brightness falls horribly from the sky, and people worlds apart suddenly find themselves working side by side at the devastated site, feeling lost anywhere else, yet battered still by memory and regret, by fresh disappointment and unimaginable shock. What happens, or should happen, when life stops us in our tracks, or our own choices do? What if both secrets and secret needs, long guarded steadfastly, are finally revealed? What is the good life?

Posed with astonishing understanding and compassion, these questions power a novel rich with characters and events, both comic and harrowing, revelatory about not only New York after the attacks but also the toll taken on those lucky enough to have survived them. Wise, surprising, and, ultimately, heart-stoppingly redemptive, The Good Life captures lives that allow us to see, through personal, social, and moral complexity, more clearly into the heart of things.

©2006 Bright Lights, Big City, Inc.; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"There have been a number of 9/11 novels lately, as writers grapple with what that terrible day means to us. This one is essential." (Booklist)

"This story is a simple one, but McInerney delivers it with grace and wit. He does what a good novelist should: He takes an abstract idea and gives it life." (Publishers Weekly)

"The Good Life is McInerney’s most fully imagined novel as it is his most ambitious and elegiac.” (The New York Review of Books)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.2 (30 )
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3.2 (6 )
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  •  
    Scott Raleigh, NC, USA 08-30-06
    Scott Raleigh, NC, USA 08-30-06 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Bridges of Why Am I Reading This Crap"

    So, I’ve got this little disorder. Just this one: Once I begin reading a book, I am compelled to finish it. Regardless of how much I dislike it, I continue to pick up the book… continue to read.

    After finishing Brett Easton Ellis’ excellent Lunar Park, I wanted to read something by Jay Mcinerny. Jay is a character in Lunar Park and is best known for his breakthrough novel Bright Lights, Big City. Not sure what posessed me, but rather than going for the easy bet and reading BL, BC, I made the error of picking out The Good Life, Jay’s latest.

    Bleh.

    The Good Life reads like Bridges of Madison County for the middle-aged urbanite. Set in NY, NY around the time of 9/11, the novel tells the story of a couple of priveledged New Yorkers too lazy to work at their own marriages that fall easily into illicit love amongst the Ground Zero soup kitchens. If "illicit love" makes you think "Harlequin Romance", then you’ve got the right idea: there’s enough trashy bodice-ripping in there to satisfy the requirements of the genre.

    There’s also a large helping of grief porn if you’re into that sort of thing. The jumpers, the flee-ers, the diggers and the body bags… Jay’s got it covered.

    Learn from my mistake. Read Bright Lights, Big City. It really is as good as you’ve heard.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Fadden Los Angeles, CA USA 08-08-06
    L. Fadden Los Angeles, CA USA 08-08-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A disappointment"

    The first half showed great promise. The second half was like a harlequin romance. I only kept listening because I thought for sure it would get back on track. It didn't.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alnia Perpoz nyc 08-18-09
    Alnia Perpoz nyc 08-18-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The ending is "To die...""

    Witty and insightful, with the hand on the pulse of current NYC culture, this novel is attractive for its portraits of NYC middle and upper classes.

    After 9/11, America (for a short time) fell in love with its rich, alongside its firefighters and police officers. Sex was another prominent response to the tragedy. This book explores both in a compelling way.

    The plot is borrowed from a vacation romance novel - rich boy, poor girl fall in love while on a break from their regular life. The dramatic tension comes from their realization that the state is temporary. Shmear a layer of 9/11 on it and voula - you got The Good Life. Inane.

    But the intelligence of cultural observations and penetration of emotional complexity hangs enough meat on the plot to make it a very palatable read. And the ending is to die...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chuck Pompano beach, FL, USA 06-01-09
    Chuck Pompano beach, FL, USA 06-01-09
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    "Great book and great narration"

    Jay McInerney captures the New York scene post 9/11 with great insight. He seems to know the city and its characters and portrays them with great accuracy. Enjoyed the book a great deal and also enjoyed the narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Ross New York, NY

    New York, NY USA 03-16-06

    Helen Ross New York, NY

    New York, NY USA 03-16-06

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    "wish it wouldn't end"

    This is the first novel I've encountered that uses 9/11 as a setting with no political intent or agenda, just an interesting, metaphorical background to an engrossing love story. If you want to know what it's like to be an upscale, Manhattan "ordinary" family during 2001, you can't get any more real than this. Portrait of private school teen life is particularly (and sadly) bullseye. Bravo.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave san francisco, CA, USA 03-13-06
    Dave san francisco, CA, USA 03-13-06
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    "Well writen, but ultimately pathetic"

    A book about a bunch a self obsessed rich New Yorkers who keep lameting that "The Good Life" has come to an end right around the time 9/11 happened. I mean come on, can you really say that the stock market crash of the eighties was just as bad as 9/11??

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolann Oxford, MI, United States 03-02-06
    Carolann Oxford, MI, United States 03-02-06 Member Since 2002

    I live in Michigan and have been a member of auible since it's onset. Hobbies are photography and writing...I am in the process of formatting my first novel for kindle and I hope everyone will read it. I LOVE AUDIBLE and listen to at least 3 unabridged books a month. !

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Could have been so much better."

    This is a good story...however the author has a link with former president Bill Clinton for his fascination with one particular activity in the White House. The author refers to this no less than 50 times throughout the book. Also the 4 letter word is used ...every other. I don't know many people who are obsessed with...or use the 4 letter word in casual conversation constantly. At least not educated people who live the "Good Life:" as the author tries to convey. The author has much more potential than is displayed in this story. The conversation takes away from the tenderness in the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 10-31-06
    Deborah New York, NY, USA 10-31-06
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    "DECENT"

    This story was decent, nothing more.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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