On this day in 1956 author Jay McInerney was born in Hartford, Connecticut. He became an instant success with the publication of his first novel, “Bright Lights, Big City”. It spawned a successful movie as well which McInerney wrote the screenplay for. His star was bright and book collectors took notice. He was part of a new generation of writers who were to take over and mold the new literary landscape. Authors like Paul Auster, Bret Easton Ellis and Douglas Coupland along with McInerney became hot items for book collectors and values shot up.
McInerney however is an example of why collecting modern first editions can be a bit like playing the stock market. Several years ago his values peaked and now yield a much diminished return. First Edition copies of ‘Bright Lights, Big City” once fetched in the hundreds now a good copy can be had for less than $50. The failure of his subsequent novels to hit the mark with his audience forced him in a different direction spending his time writing articles about wine for the Wall Street Journal.
Bret Easton Ellis, who cashed in on the same ego centered stories has kept himself relevant with subsequent novels after the success of “American Psycho” and “Less Than Zero”. His works have maintained value and have quietly begun to increase.
So what is the lesson for young collectors here? Stick with what you know, invest in classics and leave speculation on modern fiction to the seasoned book collectors. For every Cormac McCarthy there’s a Nicholas Evans.