On The Avenue

Avenue Moment: Jay McInerney on the Billionaire and the Homeless Man

Monday, November 29, 2010
img
img
Follow by Email
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Jay McInerney, novelist


1985


“I’d already been living in New York for six or seven years, long enough to consider myself pretty savvy and even jaded, when I chanced upon a tableau that caught me by surprise and came to seem emblematic for me. I was on Fifth Avenue in midtown, God knows why, waiting for the light at 51st Street. Across the street, framed between St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue, I spotted a billionaire standing next to a homeless man. I happened to recognize the billionaire because he’d recently bought Revlon and was much in the news. The homeless man was wearing several ragged coats and carrying a variety of shopping bags stuffed with God knows what. On the other side of the billionaire was a well-dressed hulk, presumably a bodyguard. But for at least 30 seconds, the billionaire and the bum stood there side by side, waiting for the light. Before the light turned, I said to myself, “I’m going to write a novel big enough to encompass a billionaire and a homeless man as characters.” (It would be my fourth, Brightness Falls.) And that’s about as representative a Manhattan tableau as I can remember.”





MORE FROM ON THE AVENUE
img

Barry Cord Shows His Champagne Dreams

The jewelry and accessory designer shows his photographs in Millbrook

Art
img

A Holiday Gathering of the Clans

George Farias, Anne Hearst and Jay McInerney have created a monster of a holiday party

Parties
img
Parties

A Helping Paw From Global Strays

No time to hit "paws" on this party

by AVENUE insiderPhotographed by Billy Farrall