The Good Life  
Jay McInerney
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On being mistaken for Bret Easton Ellis, making the L.A. Times bestseller list, and taking a trip down memory lane at Spago.

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Hi, Jay McInerney here, again. I'm in L.A., I arrived the day before yesterday. Last week I was in Toronto and Brooklyn. In Brooklyn I was at Court Street, sort of an out of town gig for me, I don't know. Brooklyn is a little outside of my turf New York-wise, but it was a good reading and a good crowd. It's a beautiful bookstore, it's called BookCourt. Monday I flew out to L.A. and picked up a paper and discovered I was #4 on the L.A. Times bestseller list, and more astonishingly, that I was two places ahead of the Da Vinci Code. So, something I never imagined I would be in my lifetime.

I met my girlfriend Anne out here, which makes the whole thing more bearable, and last night I went to read at a place called Dutton's. My friend Bret Ellis had preceded me there, where he was promptly mistaken for me by the bookstore owner. That seems to be our fate, to mistaken for each other for all eternity. I'm constantly getting thanked for my big Christmas party, which is actually Bret's big Christmas party, even by people who ostensibly know me. So it was sort of strange and wonderful having my doppelgänger there. I don't know if Bret had ever actually heard me read before, we tend to avoid each other's readings. But, it was good for L.A., I gather, it was a huge crowd, which is to say a medium-sized crowd anywhere else.

I read from Chapter 5, which is what I'm usually doing now. It's the day before September 11, actually I guess since it takes place after midnight, I guess technically is September 11. Corinne and a movie director named Cody Erhardt are talking about love and fidelity and sex and three-ways in a bar a few hours before the catastrophe of September 11. It actually turned out to be strangely topical here in L.A. because a lot of us have also done movies and screenwriting. It concerns Corinne's screenplay version of Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter and seredipitously, I was browsing in a bookstore here in L.A. on Robertson, right next to The Ivy and discovered a first edition of Greene's The Heart of the Matter and promptly bought it. So it seemed like a good omen. It was a good reading.

I later went out to dinner with Bret at Spago, what was once the hottest eatery when I first came to L.A. many many years ago in 1984 to write the screenplay for Bright Lights, Big City. It's now moved to a sort of tacky new, Las Vegas-y location in Beverly Hills. It felt like completing a circle, in a way, and tomorrow I'm off to San Francisco. So stay tuned for the next one.

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