McInerney shot to fame with the publication of his first novel, Bright Lights, Big City, a novel, strongly based on his own early experiences in New York City in the early 1980’s. He became known as part of a “literary brat pack” along with Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz.
He credits reading Dylan Thomas and James Joyce as inspiring him to pursue the craft. He became close friends with Raymond Carver who became a major force behind his writing and his career. Along with novels he writes essays about wine for House & Garden magazine, many of which have been published in two collections recently.
The author has also appeared on the television show Gossip Girl as Jeremiah Harris (an author based on McInerney himself).