Jay McInerney: TOP TEN BOOKS

Courtesy of David Howell

Hard though it is to believe today, there was a time when a novelist could be a celebrity. Apart from its extraordinary literary voice, Jay McInerney’s debut novel, Bright Lights Big City turned the writer into a sensation, widely feted by New York society, often in the company of his good friend Bret Easton Ellis. Since then he has published eight books of fiction including Brightness Falls and The Good Life, and has a ninth out this August, Bright, Precious Days. An oenophile, he has also written three books on wine, and writes regularly about wine for The Wall Street Journal.

Below are Jay McInerney’s favorite books, available to purchase as a set or individually.


The Sun Also Rises

Ernest Hemingway
Along with “In Our Time,” this is the book in which he reinvented the English language and helped invent the postwar, modern sensibility.
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James Joyce
Yes, it’s dense and difficult and allusive, but it’s also funny and vulgar and full of life.
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The Custom of the Country

Edith Wharton
Yes, I love “House of Mirth,” but the character of Undine Spragg may be Wharton’s greatest creation, a nouveau riche all-American girl for the new (20th) century.
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Jane Austen
Not as frothy as “Pride and Prejudice,” but for me, richer and more nourishing. The prose shimmers with irony and wisdom.
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A Sport and a Pastime

James Salter
This is a very sexy book, written by one of the masters of American prose, which seems to conceal some of its secrets even on repeated rereading.
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The Code of the Woosters

P.G. Wodehouse
Wodehouse is, sentence for sentence, the funniest writer in the English language, and this is his best, most shapely and finely crafted, novel.
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Lost Illusions

Honoré de Balzac
Boy comes to the city to be a great writer; life ensues. A panoramic view of mid-19th-century Paris, with all its literary, erotic and political intrigues.
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Death on the Installment Plan

Louis-Ferdinand Céline
The most visceral and exciting stylist of the 20th century; Céline’s books pulse with anarchic comic energy.
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A Handful of Dust

Evelyn Waugh
This novel shows all of Waugh’s gifts for satire and farce, but unlike his earlier novels, it has a three-dimensional, tragic protagonist in aristocratic cuckold Tony Last.
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The Great Gatsby

F.Scott Fitzgerald
One of the most lyrical novels in English, and a perfect fable about the limits of the great American dream of self-invention.
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