New York Books: Jay McInerney vs. Christopher Bollen



Interview Editor-at-Large Christopher Bollen can add a new line to his impressive résumé, and scratch one big hurdle off his to-do list and get on with the rest of his life: as of today, he has officially published his first novel. With Lightning People (Soft Skull), Bollen writes a fantastic account of becoming an adult in New York the first decade of the 21st century. That means love, marriage, distress, conspiracy theories, and self-destruction—all of which made Jay McInerney, the official author of Manhattan boom-and-doom, the natural person to ask him about writing his first book. The conversation quickly steered toward that infamous category, “New York novels,” with Bollen citing McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City as an influence. “I read that when I was 15, in my bedroom, and loved it. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there aren’t that many great city books,” says Bollen. To which McInerney muses: “It’s funny. There aren’t as many as you’d think.”

Nonetheless, the authors have done some head-scratching and pulled together their own must-read guides for the aspiring storytellers of New York.

Jay McInerney
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Wicked Pavilion by Dawn Powell
The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem

Christopher Bollen

Underworld by Don DeLillo
Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street by Herman Melville
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox