'An absolute triumph of a novel' Guardian
Welcome to L.A. City of contradictions.
It is home to movie stars and down-and-outs. Palm-lined beaches and gridlock. Shopping sprees and gun sprees.
Bright Shiny Morning takes a wild ride through the ultimate metropolis, where glittering excess rubs shoulders with seedy depravity. Frey's trademark filmic snapshots zoom in on the parallel lives of diverse characters, bringing their egos and ideals, hopes and despairs, anxieties and absurdities vividly to life.
Some suffer, like the otherworldly wino who tries to save a spoilt teenage runaway. Others gain, like the canny talent agent who turns sexual harassment to blackmailing advantage. Some are loaded, or grounded, and have luck on their side. Others, like the countless actresses-turned-hookers, or schoolboys-turned-gangsters, are doomed.
SignatureReviewed by Sara NelsonWhen James Frey imploded as a memoirist in 2006, many said his A Million Little Pieces should have been and perhaps initially was presented as a novel, and that Frey a sometimes screenwriter was, both by nature and design, a fiction writer. Bright Shiny Morning is his first official book of fiction. If it s not quite a novel, less believable in its way than his augmented memoir ever was, there s no doubt it s a work of Frey s imagination. Ironic, isn t it?Set in contemporary Los Angeles, Bright Shiny Morning is not a cohesive narrative but a compilation of vignettes of several characters (if this were a memoir, we d call them composites ) who have come to the city to fulfill their dreams. Some examples: Dylan and Maddie, madly-in-love Midwestern runaways who survive through the kindness of near strangers; Esperanza, a Mexican-American maid tortured by a body that could have been drawn by R. Crumb; a group of drunks and junkies who create a community behind the shacks on Venice Beach; Amberton Parker, a hugely famous married movie star who is secretly you guessed it gay. Interspersed with these rotating portraits are random historical and statistical factoids (which better have been fact-checked, even if there is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink disclaimer up front: Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable ) about L.A.: that, for example, approximately 2.7 million people live without health insurance and there are more than 12,000 people who describe their job as bill collector in the City of Los Angeles. Frey s intention, it seems, is to create an onomatopoetic jumble, a cacophony of facts and fiction, stats and stories, that replicate the contradictory nature of the place they describe. I expect, given the sharpness of the knives that some critics have out for Frey, that many will say the book flat out doesn t work. First off, there s that voice, the hyperbolic, breathless, run-on, word-repeating voice that was much better suited to a memoir (or even a novel) in which the hero was a hyperbolic, breathless alcoholic and drug addict. And then there s the frat-boy swagger that angered some readers of AMLP turning up here, too, so faux-cynical as to be na ve: the gang father s attaboy about his five-year-old son s desire to be a cold-blooded killer, and the prurient, adolescent take on sex. (And couldn t someone have stopped him from exclaiming woohoo after some of his fun and not fun factoids?) Yet the guy has something: an energy, a drive, a relentlessness, maybe, that can pull readers along, past the voice, past the stock characters, past the clich s. Bright Shiny Morning is a train wreck of a novel, but it s un-put-downable, a real page-turner in what may come to be known as the Frey tradition. Sara Nelson is the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Different but worth it
Understandably very different to Frey's prior two books but worth sticking at it. I loved A million little pieces, was a little disappointed with My friend leonard, and thought this was going along the same track as it takes some time to get into. Fans of Frey's will be used to his jumpy style but this one even had me confused at times. As always though, he doesn't disappoint when you get to the end.
Bright Shiny Genius
I love this book, I love Frey. Unconventional, mesmerising characters, funny, sad, human and a perfect insight to life in a big fast city like LA.
A BRIGHT SHINY MORNING
Disappointing James Frey book, not the best of his, finished it but was disappointed