>Postmodern Classic Literature: Bright Lights, Big City


The second person is a fine technique to use. It is adjuratory and precise. The first person is confessional. The two effects are distinct. In Jay McInerney’s classic literature roman a clef, the second person is exhortatory, nearly allowing us as readers to tell the protagonist how best to deal with his sexual abandonment and job loss.

I dreamed about Bolivian Marching Powder last night. Not doing it, just the metaphor of the marching armies, brigades tramping through the forests of a brain. Well done. “Her voice was like gravel spread with honey.” Voices are hard to describe, and McInerney’s imagery is beautifully suggestive, though not necessarily illuminating. The protagonist is pathetic enough to sympathize with. Goosebumps for the last line, when he must learn to live again, the way we all must, in every single moment.

Constantly we revert to habit and routine. Despite the expectation of cocaine, sex, and high pleasures, luxuries lose importance, a notion exemplified by the ’80s me-generation of fast-money and its repudiation in this great read. Our generation is a tad more in touch with what matters, maybe because of the Great Recession, maybe because of the physically-distancing nature of the internet. So I’m working on how to convey that in my writing.

By Daniel Ryan Adler

Daniel Adler writes fiction and nonfiction and is finishing his MFA at University of South Carolina.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s