'The story of a disintegrating marriage set in New York in the frenzied few months leading up to the Wall Street crash of 1987. A sort of BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES with the added advantage of believable, likeable characters' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY Their moment was of the brief, shining sort when everything seemed possible. The gold rush of the 1980s, ...
'The story of a disintegrating marriage set in New York in the frenzied few months leading up to the Wall Street crash of 1987. A sort of BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES with the added advantage of believable, likeable characters' INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY Their moment was of the brief, shining sort when everything seemed possible. The gold rush of the 1980s, when the best and the brightest vied with the worst and most craven for riches, fame and the love of beautiful people. With all the force and cunning enterprise of Manhattan itself, BRIGHTNESS FALLS captures lives-in-the-making - men and women confronting their sudden middle-age with wit and low behaviour, fear and confusion, and occasionally even a little honesty and decency. None of them, ever, would be the same again
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Having witnessed the recent (and on going) collapse of the real estate, mortgage, and banking industries, which were preceded by only a few years by the Dot Com bubble of the late - 90's - I wonder - will we ever learn?
Brightness Falls is a needed morality tale (and history lesson) for a lost generation. I read this book nearly twenty years ago, yet the characters and story still resonant within me. Our culture is ruled by greed, unbridled ambition and more of everything. This is the fuel for our very lives - a good citizen today is a good consumer. Our responsibility, if we do not wish for the house of cards to falls, is to buy lots of crap - crap we not need, with money we do not have to impress people we do lot like!
Brightness Falls features the quest of a couple for the golden ring - wealth, fame and privilege.
It is a story about all of us - about Americans who came of age in the Reagan Era and beyond. It speaks the truth about what rests in our hearts and our desire to skip the mundane and difficult aspects of life - and just experience the fun and easy. We know all to well that life is full of challenges, struggle, pain, suffering, mean bosses, and disappointment.
But, this is not true, not for the well to do (or so we think). The rich live a different life. This is the story we have been told, and sold, anyway. Over last century, beginning with the stories of Horatio Alger, we've been indoctrinated with the belief that every man can attain high-society status. Everyone can be rich, famous and "important." For many, this has become an obsession - one for which they will sacrifice their morals, ethics and their very soul to attain. We have witnessed this time and again over the past 30 years. Watch Wall Street, The Smartest Guys in the Room, Margin Call, or Glengarry Glen Ross for great depictions - real and fictional - of our ethical slide.
What Brightness Falls does is place us in the front row - to witness the gradual surrender of everything of importance to two individuals - all in exchange for the chance to strike it rich. The scenes I remember the most are those involving the main characters father - who is a retired auto worker living a simple, frugal life in Michigan on his pension. The conversations between son and father were heartbreaking - as the son buried all the values of his Mid-western upbringing in exchange for the values of the big city. Father and son had nothing in common. The wholesome values of the father didn't produce enough fruit fast enough for the son.
This is the story of our times. We look to the founders of Facebook and Google - billionaires before 30 - free to live large, never to punch a clock or drudge through a morning commute. We all want what they have - and we want it now, while we're young. We do not wish to work, earn, save, and grow. Unfortunately, we do not recognize that from the simple life comes great wisdom. Only through years of experience - of seeing it all - can one begin to understand the world and our place in it. In Brightness Falls we see the crash in slow motion. We see how every decision impacts relationships and compromises the individuals involved. We can see what will happen and learn from the experience of these characters. Slow and steady wins the race!
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