You’re not the kind of guy who would be looking at an art auction website like this at this time of the morning. But an editor at the magazine where you work passed along a link to an auction of Marc Tauss’s iconic cover artwork for Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney’s 1984 debut novel, with a note that said, “Hey, John, this seems like your kind of thing.” He knows me well, maybe as well as the baby in that book knows a coma.
Wasn’t Bright Lights, Big City partly why you ended up where you ended up? You can admit that now. You can admit now that, in the lonely junior-year dorm room at the large Midwestern university, you read the Vintage Contemporaries paperback and watched the movie adaptation multiple times, even though you knew that Michael J. Fox, one of your favorite actors at the time, wasn’t right for the role, and you wondered, at least once, Where’s Charlie Sheen when you really need him? (although serious props to whoever cast Phoebe Cates, Kiefer Sutherland, and Dianne Wiest). You remember the first croque monsieur you ordered, very late at night (it was technically early morning), at the Odeon, shortly after you arrived here. You had even paid for that meal with freelance wages earned in the fact-checking departments at various Manhattan magazine publishers. And now here you are, wondering whether you can afford to purchase a slice of your past for a mere $8,000 to $12,000, and if you even have space for it on your wall. You can’t, and you don’t, but just looking at the cover art again after all these years will get you through the day, like the smell of fresh bread as the dawn breaks.