Literapedia Book Notes for

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney


  • You (ch 1)— a 24 year-old New York City recently separated male.
  • Tad Allagash (ch 1) your night-club hopping socialite friend.
  • Clara Tillinghast / Clingfast / The Clinger (ch 2)— your unforgiving boss in the Department of Factual Verification
  • Rittenhouse (ch 2)— a nervous, invisible, and perfect co-worker; Clara's star editor.
  • Yasu Wade (ch 2) an irreverent gossipy co-worker; Clara's second-favorite.
  • Megan Avery (ch 2)— a sensible, honest, and friendly co-worker.
  • The Druid (ch 2)— the elusive and supreme final editor.
  • Alex Hardy (ch 4)— a fiction editor who knew the founding fathers of the magazine by nickname.
  • Amanda (ch 5)— your ex-wife whom you assume to be in Paris.
  • The Ghost (ch 6)— a writer who has supposedly been working on the same aritcle for 6 years.
  • Vicky (ch 6)— Tad's cousin from Boston.
  • Michael (ch 10)- your brother.

Chapter Summaries

  1. It's Six A.M. Do You Know Where Are? - Abandoned at a night-club by Tad, you try to salvage the evening through Bolivian Marching Powder and the company of strangers, but fail. You walk out into the harsh light of day.
  2. The Department of Factual Verification - Clara makes you wait to suffer the consequences of arriving an hour and fifteen minutes late. After breif interactions with your co-workers, you attempt to edit a French piece due that night. Late into the night you give up, hand in the still mangled article, and head home.
  3. The Utility Fiction - At home, you try not to think of Amanda. You contemplate spending an evening in, maybe to write or read for a little while. However Tad shows up and whisks you off into the night with two female friends, but you end up alone as before.
  4. A Womb With a View - Megan calls, waking you from a dream, to make sure you get to work on time. There are two surprsies when you arrive: Clara has called in sick and Amanda's in an ad in the newspaper. You focus on your work, avoiding the thought that Amanda has returned from Paris (and without your notification). You go out to lunch with Alex Hardy. When you leave, someone on the street tries to sell you a ferret; then you see a mannequin that looks (or so you think) like Amanda.
  5. Les Jeux Sont Faits - Looking at the mannequin, you remember everything from the moment you met Amanda until the moment she called from France to say she wasn't coming back. Back at work, you can't continue working on the French piece - the proofs are gone from Clara's desk. You realize you've forgotten the bagel Megan asked you to get her and your apology turns into a near breakdown.
  6. Coma Baby Lives! - Your co-workers offer to help, but you shrug them off and visit the editing library. Before you leave, you make a call to Amanda's modeling agency and run into The Ghost. After asking the super's relative for the extra set of keys, you find a note on your door from Allagash who wishes you to meet his cousin at a bar. You settle in to watch Family Feud, but end up going anyway. You end up having a wonderful evening with Vicky after all.
  7. Pygmies, Ferrets and Dog Chow - Clara's furious, but all of your co-workers are on your side when you come into the office. You are fired. Megan, after giving you a kiss, wants to meet for lunch the next day. You and Tad return to the office that night to seek revenge; you are accidentally joined by a very intoxicated Alex Hardy.
  8. O Couture! - You sneak into a fashion show in hopes to see Amanda. You get thrown out for calling out to the model you believe to be Amanda.
  9. Linguine and Sympathy - When you go to pack up your things at work, Megan invites you to dinner. You go to her place, cook, and talk. You try to make a move on her, but the two valiums you took catch up to you. Megan tries to help before you pass out.
  10. Sometimes a Vague Notion - In the morning, you leave a note of thanks to Megan, who is already at work. Hoping to benefit from your reaction to being fired, someone calls to try to get dirt on the newspaper, but you decline handing out details. You step out to get the Post and return to find Michael on your doorstep. You turn and run. You pass familiar places and end up at a bar, and eventually, a young girl's bed. You return home, let in Michael, and fight with him.
  11. The Night Shift - You and Michael go out and share a meal, then talk. You reminisce about your mother.
  12. How It's Going - Tad invites you to Odeon; you meet him and a friend there then head straight to a party at a warehouse. Amanda, unbelievably, is there. When she finally approaches you and asks how you are, all you can do is laugh until you can't breathe. You escape the crowd to call Vicky and talk to her. As you roam the streets, you smell fresh bread. You ask the man on the loading dock for something and he tosses you a bag of rolls. You begin eating them happily.

Student Contributors

Sarah Culbertson