‘The Good Life,’ by Jay McInerney

From The New York Times:

Gray184 “When I told Mailer that my new novel took place in the autumn of 2001 he shook his head skeptically. ‘Wait 10 years,’ he said. ‘It will take that long for you to make sense of it.’ But I couldn’t wait that long. As a novelist who considers New York his proper subject, I didn’t see how I could avoid confronting the most important and traumatic event in the history of the city, unless I wanted to write historical novels. I almost abandoned the book several times, and often wondered whether it wasn’t foolish to create a fictional universe that encompassed the actual event — whether my invention wouldn’t be overwhelmed and overshadowed by the actual catastrophe. At the very least, certain forms of irony and social satire in which I’d trafficked no longer seemed useful. I felt as if I was starting over and I wasn’t sure I could.”

Despite all the attention, pro and con, that “The Good Life” will attract as a novel supposedly centered on the destruction of the twin towers, the book’s central concerns are only tangentially related to the actual events of 9/11. What matters here are some fictional characters, a few of them recruited and updated from McInerney’s 1992 novel, “Brightness Falls”. Faithful readers again meet Corrine Calloway, now approaching 42 and still married to Russell, a book editor. After a difficult procedure involving the transplanted use of her younger sister’s eggs, she is the mother of school-age twins. Maternity has not, contrary to her expectations, eased Corrine’s discontents with her life.

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