“I’m like, I don’t believe this shit.” That’s the opening line of Jay McInerney’s Story of My Life. The thought is coming from Alison Poole, the protagonist of the novel (if you can use that term). McInerney based the character of Alison Poole on a woman he dated in the ’80s. Her name back then was Lisa Druck. She later married a guy named Alexander Hunter III and changed her name to Rielle Hunter. Then she had an affair with presidential candidate John Edwards. The rest is tabloid history. This shit really is hard to believe.

With those first two words — “I’m like” — it is clear that this is not your classic life story. Compare, for instance, the first sentence of Hans Christian Andersen’s The True Story of My Life. It goes, “My life is a… More…

Our singular social interaction outside the building came two years ago. I invited him to a reading I was giving at a local Barnes & Noble to celebrate one of my books on censorship. But even at that festive occasion we men of words exchanged but few.

Over the years, I gleaned hardly anything else about Mr. Aronson. I can’t recall ever seeing him with company. He apparently enjoyed hiking. Sometimes in the summer he looked like a big kid in shorts, a T-shirt, tube socks, and hiking boots. And he must have loved jazz. Sax solos routinely burst through his black metal door. I imagined Mr. Aronson methodically removing a Charlie Parker record from the jacket stored in a plastic sleeve, checking both sides for scratches and gently placing the disk on a vintage turntable. But he could have owned a brand new MP3 player for all I knew, as I never set foot in his apartment. In Manhattan, proximity does… More…