Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Good Life, by Jay McInerney

A post-9/11 novel. I have now read, I think, three that might be put into this category.

Two affluent couples live in Manhattan in 2001. We glimpse their lives just before the attack on the World Trade Center and then follow them in its aftermath. Most particularly we follow Corrine, from one couple, and Luke, from another. After the attack, Corrine finds her way to a soup kitchen that was set up to feed the workers, and volunteers there. Luke happens by and joins as well, at least part, it seems, because he is attracted to Corrine.

The two fall in love. They carry on their affair carefully, to protect their children primarily. Both feel this is the love of their lives and cautiously they start to think of divorce and remarriage.

None of the characters is a saint. While I rooted, generally, for Luke and Corrine, I felt annoyed by their attitudes and expectations at times. At the same time I appreciated that their thoughts were thrown so nakedly on the page. No pretense. As an exploration of the characters, their weaknesses and strengths, it is an interesting book. By the end we are (or I was, anyway) involved in their lives and in how their choices affect others close to them. I wondered if they would follow their dreams or come crashing to earth or land some place in between.

The story is also a look at the lives of many of the affluent in Manhattan, a world unto itself. What constitutes a "good life"? 

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