Story of My Life

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

At this novel’s end, Alison tells the reader she would “love to think that ninety percent of it (her life) was just dreaming.” Indeed, ten percent of this novel would be enough for any discriminating reader, since ninety percent of the narrative consists of a series of redundancies--redundant images, phrases, sentences, sex acts, parties with plenty of cocaine and never enough cigarettes, and telephone calls to answering machines. There are more than enough credit cards to go around in Alison’s enclave of yuppies, countless brand names sprinkled throughout the story, and clouds of yuppie angst in this world of “Wall Streeters” with nostrils powdered white from frequent snorts of cocaine through fifty-dollar bills. All the characters in this novel are what one of Alison’s bed-partners calls “walking petri dishes for sexually transmitted diseases.”

This novel began as a short story, and Jay McInerney would have been advised to leave it as such--especially since he employs his considerable writing talents here to give voice to an aimless twenty-year-old philistine with much to much breath but no breadth of thought or vision. True, Alison is pregnant at the novel’s end, she goes through a painful abortion (with needles portrayed by McInerney for dramatic effect), and she ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Yet this last-minute morality play on the author’s part smacks not of consequence but contrivance. This work lacks a moral vision, with only an expedient moral judgement imposed upon the ending after almost two hundred pages of grossly sensationalized sexual promiscuity and drug abuse. STORY OF MY LIFE might seem a quick fix for aficionados of skinflicks, but ultimately it is a cheap thrill.