• Bright Lights, Big City

  • By: Jay McInerney
  • Narrated by: Daniel Passer
  • Length: 5 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (295 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The tragicomedy of a young man in New York City, a writer, never named, who works as a fact-checker for a prestigious magazine. He struggles with the reality of his mother's death, alienation, and the seductive pull of drugs and a vibrant nightlife.
©2009 Random House; 1984 Jay McInerney

Critic Reviews

"A sidelong look at life in the Big Apple, as experienced by youth that once had hope and aspirations. In spite of the depths to which the main characters descend, the exuberance and humour of the narrative maintains its wonderful disregard for conventional behaviour with great buoyancy. An entertaining read, but it is the resignation and frustration that lingers in the mind that makes this novel so compelling." ( Kirkus)
"A rambunctious, deadly funny novel that goes right for the mark - the human heart." (Raymond Carver)
"The author is one of those reare writers who catches the moods, nuances and manners of a sub-culture with humor, finesse, skill and accuracy. A born stylist and remarkable discovery!" (George Plimpton)

What listeners say about Bright Lights, Big City

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Curiously, mundanely real

Just about everyone who has never lived in New York likes to imagine what it might be like. I found the book just the right balance of obscure and mundane to be believable. It's easy to imagine a person such as the main character existing in NY in the 80s.

Don't let my title mislead though, this book isn't boring. It's just got the right amount of day to day normality to make it believable.

When the book finished I initially thought "What? Where's the ending?". But after more thought about what the book was trying to achieve, I'm pretty satisfied with it. It's not a big morality tale, as I started to expect it would be. I was disappointed with some of the character's actions, in just the way I am sometimes disappointed with my actions or those of friends. But that's what makes this book endearing. It's as just life from the eyes of just another person.

The more I think about this book the more I'm glad I read it.

Final note though: At 5ish hours it's a fantastic quick read. Easy to follow, easy to visualise. I bought this on sale, and am glad I did.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book, not for everyone

If you could sum up Bright Lights, Big City in three words, what would they be?

Provocative, bratty, brilliant.

What did you like best about this story?

This story follows a broken man who refuses to acknowledge he is broken. It is written in such a way that the reader also refuses to acknowledge this brokenness. This story is also written in second person which is interesting and atypical.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I didn't, but it was short enough that I could. It was very drawing.

Any additional comments?

Great for those who liked anything by Bret Easton Ellis or Catcher in the Rye.
Some may become uncomfortable with the story line, the frequent use of drugs, and the treatment of women.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a great period piece for NYC of the early 90's

I thought I was just going to be annoyed with this story but McInerney's self obsessed, obliviously addicted character grows on you as he struggles with his talents and being his own worst enemy. I kind of live vicariously through characters like this since I've never lived in NY. You kind of want to slap him around and say hey cant you see how great you have it but that's the beauty and the device of the story. Just be warned- it's about living in NYC in the early days of Friends and Seinfeld without all the annoying friends and success.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I felt that sense of loss when it ended.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, beacuse of the period, the city, the partys, the laughs and Amanda.

What other book might you compare Bright Lights, Big City to and why?

The Hotest State.

What does Daniel Passer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Did notice him as I was listening, which is good.

If you could rename Bright Lights, Big City, what would you call it?

Factual Verification

Any additional comments?

Even though my life didn't parallel the main characters, i could really understand him.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exquisite!

I hear tell this thing is a movie – whatever. Maybe I'll watch it someday. But I seriously doubt it can rival this audiobook. Both the writing and the narration are absolutely perfect.

If you like this novel you might enjoy "Going Postal" by Stephen Jaramillo. Thematically, it's sort of a West Coast slacker version of Bright Lights, but without the dazzling symmetry or 2nd person POV. It's hella funny though.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

You are on a drug trip

The perspective is novel, but there is nothing profound to the pure spectacle. The story doesn't feel like it progresses anywhere.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Mysteriously excellent

This one gave me weird dreams, which is a good thing. Dostoevsky gives me weird dreams.

The story is a bit unconventional. The fact that other people noted: referring to the character in second person takes a bit getting used to, but after a while it becomes natural. It gets a bit worse every now and then (about a dozen times during the whole listen). There are dialogs where another character says "you" and you confuse it with the usual "you" of the narrator when he refers to you. You miss the dialog, pretty much the way you missed the previous sentence. Quotes are not audible so.

Also I would be happier if the narrator could do different voices better. Otherwise he's excelent and very immersive.

Nothing in this story has the slightest resemblence to purpose or meaning, which is part of its charm. Taking a look at the 3 minutes remaining near the end of the book I found it difficult to imagine a proper ending.

Spoiler warning.

Nothing and everything is resolved. A great ending indeed.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A book not meant to be listened to

I liked the content of the book, but the narration fell a bit flat for me, which makes the story suffer more than it should.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Flawed people

...make such interesting characters. I think I fell a little bit in love with this dude although he's got a bit if a Coke habit and can't seem to find people who will truly be his friend. I like that he has a person he can call in the middle of the night, I hope he keeps her. Also, this book was second person all the way through...what the heck?!

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good reader, decent but fast nd unfulfilling story

a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a I 5 1 2 e h

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nakul
  • 03-28-13

Smooth read

The book's a bit dated now, but I was surprised that it held up as well as it did. I listened to it on my first trip to New York, as I walked around the upper east side. A special word of commendation for the reader – Passer has a lovely, youthful voice, with just the right mixture of irony, cynicism, and naiveté. He gets the tone of the novel exactly right, and gives it just the mixture of pathos and comedy it needs. A pleasure to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily
  • 05-14-22

Good but Slow

2022 52 Book Challenge - 1) Second person narrative

I quite enjoyed this book. It was a good piece on grief and losing yourself, and to an extent the second person narrative does tend to pull you in. My main complaint is that the book feels very slow, and I tended to have to put it down before I got bored.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • MidnightRambler
  • 07-30-19

Dull, boring.. that could be the narrator.

I was recommended this book due to me liking American Psycho. I can see the similarities but this board me. The narrator didn’t bring the story to life. Very dull. Couldn’t finish it.