The Heirs to Holden Caulfield
The unnamed narrator (Bright Lights, Big City)
It’s easy to imagine the anonymous narrator of Jay McInerney’s 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City as a modern-day Holden Caulfield—if say, Holden had a serious addiction to Bolivian Marching Powder. McInerney’s rare second-person story takes us through the lonely days and yuppie-filled nights of a would-be writer/magazine fact checker (played in the movie version by Michael J. Fox) immersed in the Manhattan party scene of the 1980s. McInerney’s secondary characters also feel like the same phonies Caulfield railed against. And like in Salinger’s classic work, McInerney offers detailed portrayals of New York itself, allowing it to become a prominent character. In both books, the city is pitted against a protagonist depressed by personal catastrophes and bored by what life has to offer. You know who you are.