“Over the course of decades, works of art slowly shift and sift away, leaving works of a classic nature behind. It's only now, looking back, that we can quantify the music from each decade's movement that is truly important in the long run—in the 80's we slowly figured out who was important from the 60's (the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Dylan, Cash) in terms of influence, character, and ability to withstand two decades of change. While we've yet to really understand what fantastic art has come out of the 90's—there are quite a few obvious choices that I'd put my money on—due to its too-relative nature, the 80's are slowly coming clear to us as we consider the most contemporary art.
For instance: The Cure and The Pixies have both figured prominently into inspiring today's musicians. Likewise, the Literary Brat Pack of the 80's are becoming obvious contenders in the realm of literature. Now, as their contemporaries move in to academic positions and their works become the objects of study, this group of writers (several of whom still have fairly decent careers) have gained a new sense of value.
McInerney, along with Ellis (whose debut novel, Less Than Zero, followed McInerney's a year later), sort of sum of the most powerful extremes of this group of writers; where Ellis is constantly crafting characters of an impersonal nature, tales fraught with moralistic disconnection and outright horror, McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City hints at a more humane, touching world populated with characters who feel deeply and exhibit the ability (and, often, inability) to connect and retain relationships.
Now, 22 years after its debut, the novel is just as powerful and beautifully written as it was then; the two decades in between have done nothing to alter our literary consciousness away from the ability to be touched by it, and its style, content, and often poetic vision is in no way hindered by our growing sense of post 9/11 unease. Coupled with Ellis' Rules of Attraction and, probably, American Psycho (and, of course, several other entries from the Brat Pack's catalog), it connects with a sense of humanity that didn't exist only a few years before its time—a new, urbane set of fears in a growing technological culture, where pop-culture is, often, more important than matters of state.
The nameless protagonist of the novel hits a rapid patch of oil in the New York fast-track and, slowly, comes to grips with both his situation and himself; quite different from Patrick Batemen (American Psycho), who only continues along his way into this new world (while slowly breaking apart at the seams). In Bright Lights, Big City we're exposed to a new fabric of thought in the American consciousness—a fabric which, in the years since, has become a standard part of a great deal of contemporary fiction; equal parts narcissist and explorer, ironic and heartbroken, this new breed of character can be found in all forms of post-Brat Pack literature—from Maggie Estep's Diary of an Emotional Idiot to Chuck Palahniuk's Choke. McInerney signaled the beginning of a new breed of writer and, more, of character.
I suspect that as today's writer's are interviewed about their favorite novels—this book will be mentioned more than once. Much like, when questioned, today's musicians relate to those darker, lesser-known bands of the period.”