The protagonists of these witty stories tend to be outsiders, never quite at home in their seemingly glamorous milieus: a young New York movie reviewer who hopes to sell screenplays in Hollywood; a famous actor who visits his wife at a mental institution; an aspiring writer who becomes a crackhead and lives among Manhattan's transvestite hookers. Connor McKnight, the hero of the first-person novel from which the collection takes its title, is no exception to this rule. He abandons his study of Zen and Japanese literature to write for a celebrity magazine in Manhattan and live with a model. At the same time, his best friend, Jeremy Green, a brooding, self-consciously Jewish short-story writer, becomes an unwilling socialite and fears jeopardizing his artistic reputation. Always scrupulous in demonstrating the comparative in-ness of his out-crowd, McInerney impresses here with his trenchant humor and keen eye for detail, as he vengefully skewers the New York literary scene and other, equally unforgiving cliques. (In a typical exchange, Jeremy asks whether Christopher Lehmann-Haupt is Jewish, then complains, ""What's-her-fucking-name hates everybody except Anne fucking Tyler and Amy fucking Tan. I don't stand a chance. Wrong initials, wrong sex."") Although the novel ends abruptly and the seven stories, which span McInerny's career, seem tacked on, there is no question but that the aging 1980s wunderkind follows the scene of his early glory (Bright Lights, Big City) with a more savage, jaundiced eye. Say what you will, McInerny has few peers in chronicling a certain segment of contemporary society that he loves and hates at the same time. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998 Release date: 09/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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