Edith Gruson , Gerard Hadders , ProArtsDesign
Jay McInerney, Schitterlichten, grote stad
Mai Spijkers, Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, Illustratie Ineke Smits

Bright Lights, Big City is an American novel by Jay McInerney, published by Vintage Books on August 12, 1984. It is written about a character’s time spent caught up in, and notably escaping from, the mid-1980s New York City fast lane. It is one of the few well-known English-language novels written in the second person, and its main character is unnamed.

The story’s narrator is a writer who works as a fact checker for a high-brow magazine—likely based on Harpers or The New Yorker, where McInerney himself once worked as a fact checker—for which he had once hoped to write. By night, he is a cocaine using party-goer seeking to lose himself in the hedonism of the 1980s yuppie party scene, often going to a nightclub called Heartbreak.

His wife, Amanda, recently left him and he copes with this by pretending nothing happened and telling no one that she’s gone. Initially hopeful that she will return someday, he eventually resorts to searching for her at a fashion event. He obsesses over every item she owned in his apartment, every modeling photo and every club she visited, even repeatedly visiting a mannequin based on her. Also, his partying is affecting his work and he appears to be on the verge of getting fired by his temperamental boss.

The novel would go on to be the source material for the 1988 film Bright Lights, Big City, which was also written by McInerney. In 1999, an off Broadway stage musical was produced by the New York Theater Workshop, written by Paul Scott Goodman and directed by Michael Grief, with orchestrations and musical direction by Richard Barone