The Good Life  
Jay McInerney
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Jay reads an excerpt from The Good Life about love and marriage and fidelity, and dishes about his star-studded book party in New York.

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Hi, it's Jay again, I'm just back from Philadelphia where I read once again with my old friend Julian Barnes. It was actually I guess our last appearance together which is kind of sad. He's off to some other part of the country, which I'm sure you can find on his website.

We had a great time in Houston and on Monday night we read at the 92nd Street Y in New York, where we got to introduce each other and basically rib each other in the process. I read from what's settling into maybe my usual reading piece which is from the fifth chapter of the book and it takes place on the night of September 10, 2001, and it's basically a conversation in a bar between Corrine Calloway, our heroine, and a movie director who's sort of thinking about directing her screenplay of Graham Greene's A Heart of the Matter. Or at least he's pretending to be thinking about it and they chatting a lot about love and marriage and fidelity. Which is of course is pretty much the theme of the book. And I just thought I'd read a little of it here for you for those of you who can't make the next appearance. Corrine is talking to the movie director, whose name is Cody Erhardt and she says:

"Why do most men cheat?" she asked. "I'm curious."

"Why ask me?"

"Because you're such a perceptive observer of human nature. And you're a man."

"Because we yearn for the unknown."

"Strange pussy."

"If you will. Because men are romantics. Scobie's not. He's a realist. Don't laugh. You think I'm kidding?"

"How do you define romantic?"

"Unrealistic expectations. A yearning for the infinite. Dissatisfaction with the actual. The actual being the familiar. The body of the woman you've already slept with. When you fuck a strange woman, you're searching the void for meaning."

"Oh, please."

That's a little taste of Chapter 5, which I have been reading lately. We had about 200 people in Philadelphia, very polite crowd, almost too polite. We did a question and answer period afterwards and I was asked at one point if I had based this sort of love triangle from my fifth novel The Last of the Savages on one of Shakespeare's sonnets. It was one of those moments when I really wanted to say yes and take credit, but in fact no, I had no such thought in my mind as is often the case when we're asked these questions about literary illusions.

Tuesday night I had a great book party here in New York. My girlfriend Anne threw me a party at "21". We had a good writer turnout: Donna Tartt, Nathan Englander, Patrick McGrath, and Dominick Dunne was there along with some other high voltage figures. Uma Thurman came, I've actually known her for about fifteen years, and her boyfriend Andre Balazs, an old old friend of mine. A few of my guests behaved very badly, tripping over themselves to throw themselves across her path. Martha Stewart was there, claiming that we had had some nightclubbing days together, I don't really remember the details of those. A good time was had by all.

So I'm in Boston next Monday, February 6. Hope to see you then. Tune in next week for my further adventures on the road.

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