To what movement does Bright Lights, Big City belong?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bright Lights, Big City is a 1984 semi-autobiographical novel by Jay McInerney, and was adapted to the 1988 film of the same name starring Michael J. Fox.

The novel is notable for its uncommon narration style; the book is written from a present-tense, second-person perspective: "You" instead of "I" or "He." The effect is to associate action and event with the reader directly, instead of reading about events happening to other people. The literary style is stream-of-consciousness, with every thought and random connection mentioned and commented on. For example:

Somewhere back there you could have cut your losses, but you rode past that moment on a comet trail of white powder and now you are trying to hang on to the rush. Your brain at this moment is composed of brigades of tiny Bolivian soldiers. They are tired and muddy from their long march through the night.
(McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, Google Books)

Instead of focusing on concrete events, the novel whips back and forth from inner introspection to outer contemplation; symbolism and allegory play a large role, as do the protagonist's personal hangups about life. Stream-of-consciousness is commonly associated with literary fiction rather than genre fiction.

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