Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bright Lights Big City


Blank Fiction, although hard to define as one term, James Annesley in his book Blank Fictions: consumerism culture and the contemporary American novel describes the main foundations of the genre as “an increasing emphasis on violence, sexual experimentation, drug use and urban despair.” This is certainly the case in Brett Easton Ellis’ novel Less than Zero and therefore for my blog post I have chosen to look at another 1980s novel categorised as blank fiction in order to discover whether both books focus and represent the same things about life in that decade.

Above is the review for a book called Bright Lights, Big City by Jay Mcinerney who is a member of the “brat pack” which was a term given to a group of young up and coming authors of the 1980s which Ellis was also a member. The novel was published in 1984.

Apart from the fact that Mcinerney’s novel is set in New York as opposed to Los Angeles, it has a similar story to Less than Zero. This is shown by a quote from the review which reads “Bright Lights, Big City takes you through a week in the life of “you,” a fact-checker at an unnamed prestigious magazine by day, New York club-hopper and cocaine-snorter by night.” This shows that both books focus on the lives of either upper class or successful people, who, despite having it all, take drugs and favor the seedier parts of society.

As Bright Lights, Big City portrays the same lifestyle as Less than Zero, it helps understand the representation of youth living in the 1980s as it means that both authors who themselves were young, share a common view, therefore validating it. A certain picture of youth culture in the 1980s is definitely depicted by these two authors, and by blank fiction as a whole, that is, a generation of people coasting through life without any real purpose and responsibility and as a result, in the case of Clay and his friends, get involved with drug usage and prostitution.

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