Book Diary: Story of My Life (Jay McInerney)

I bought this at the Amnesty bookshop after having read and loved ‘Brightness Falls’.  This is an early book diary entry, I can tell that (not just from the date) because my first few entries seem to just quote the quotes on the jacket.  I also sound like I’m trying to show off, but to who?  This was my personal diary.  Maybe I had an inkling I’d be typing it up for a blog at some point.


(finished reading on 10/10/2008)

This is the story of Alison Poole, a snapshot of her life over a period of a few months.  It’s told in the first person, in idiosyncratic slang – that might just about describe it technically, but it doesn’t do justice to McInerney’s skill with language, or the way he uses it push the narrative – or, how funny it is.

I’m always drawn to the use of language in novels, which started after I read and was knocked flat by Lolita.  However, McInerney’s way of using language seems to be totally opposite to Nabokov’s – rather than the overt poetry of the multilingual Nabokov, it’s littered with sentences like the very opening line, “I’m like, I don’t believe this shit.”  Yet, for me it remains totally On It all the way through, ‘fast and sharp’ like the quote from The Observer on the front.

Aside from the language, the development of the story is also very clever.  Here, I will defer to a bigger brain than mine, someone at the London Review of Books summed it up succinctly and accurately with: ‘Line for line, it is one of the funniest novels I have ever read.  Yet add the whole thing up and it’s hell.’


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