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Bright Shiny Morning: A Novel

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Bright Shiny Morning: A Novel Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

One of the most celebrated and controversial authors in America delivers his first novel — a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilarating, and utterly original.

Dozens of characters pass across the reader's sight lines — some never to be seen again — but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA's lost souls and captures the dramatic narrative of their lives: a bright, ambitious young Mexican-American woman who allows her future to be undone by a moment of searing humiliation; a supremely narcissistic action-movie star whose passion for the unattainable object of his affection nearly destroys him; a couple, both nineteen years old, who flee their suffocating hometown and struggle to survive on the fringes of the great city; and an aging Venice Beach alcoholic whose life is turned upside down when a meth-addled teenage girl shows up half-dead outside the restroom he calls home.

Throughout this strikingly powerful novel there is the relentless drumbeat of the millions of other stories that, taken as a whole, describe a city, a culture, and an age. A dazzling tour de force, Bright Shiny Morning illuminates the joys, horrors, and unexpected fortunes of life and death in Los Angeles.

Review:

"Signature Review by Sara Nelson When 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 nave: 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 cliches. 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.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Because I've been on a fool's errand the past four years writing a history of the novel, I paid little attention to the big publishing scandal of 2006, when James Frey's 'A Million Little Pieces' was exposed as being closer to fiction than to the heartfelt memoir it was marketed as. I couldn't be bothered with the legal and moral issues because the history of this lawless genre is filled with such... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what. He became a furiously good storyteller this time." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"[R]eads like the overreaching first draft of a gifted M.F.A. student. Where was Frey's editor at HarperCollins to guide Frey into pruning the clutter and dramatizing the themes in his fact-based tangents? As it stands, Morning is like L.A. at its worst: undone by ambition, sprawl, and (verbal) smog. (Grade: D+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Bright Shiny Morning reads quickly, has great dialogue and some expertly paced dramatic moments, teaches you more about L.A. than you ever knew, and makes the case (posited by an artist near the end) that Los Angeles is the new New York, on its way to becoming the cultural capital of the world." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"[A] terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah....Bright Shiny Morning is an execrable novel, a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers his first novel. In a sweeping narrative that encompasses the history of Los Angeles, Frey focuses on a handful of lost souls, and spins the gripping narrative of their lives.

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About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

chipzip47, March 24, 2010 (view all comments by chipzip47)
I do not hesitate in calling this novel, or whatever it is, a masterpiece. It is briliant, indescribable, page-turning, anxious, and so forceful you feel like you've been slammed by a truck! I have not "checked the facts" but I really don't care because I believe it captures LA and it's energy.

Wow! So powerful and poignant at the same time, the book touched every nerve of my being. I read where the LA Times had trashed it. Whoever the reviewer was, I wouldn't want to have him/her as a dinner guest, because I think my appetite would suffer by evening's end. How one could read this book and not be moved or effected is beyond me, but that's why we have opinions.

I heartily recommend this to anyone who wants to better understand LA and more importantly, our country and why...
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
xosheilamarie, June 19, 2008 (view all comments by xosheilamarie)
Despite all the horrible reviews I was just as intrigued with Bright Shiny Morning as I was with A Million Little Pieces. Scandal aside, the novel does a good job at connecting you to the characters so that while it might seem like a mess of stories mixed together, you really just want to keep going to see what is happens next. I absolutely loved it.
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(36 of 71 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061573132
Author:
Frey, James
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
by James Frey
Author:
by James Frey
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Los angeles (calif.)
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
May 13, 2008
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.53 in 27.04 oz

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Urban Life
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Bright Shiny Morning: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Harper - English 9780061573132 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Signature Review by Sara Nelson When 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 nave: 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 cliches. 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.) Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what. He became a furiously good storyteller this time."
"Review" by , "[R]eads like the overreaching first draft of a gifted M.F.A. student. Where was Frey's editor at HarperCollins to guide Frey into pruning the clutter and dramatizing the themes in his fact-based tangents? As it stands, Morning is like L.A. at its worst: undone by ambition, sprawl, and (verbal) smog. (Grade: D+)"
"Review" by , "Bright Shiny Morning reads quickly, has great dialogue and some expertly paced dramatic moments, teaches you more about L.A. than you ever knew, and makes the case (posited by an artist near the end) that Los Angeles is the new New York, on its way to becoming the cultural capital of the world."
"Review" by , "[A] terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah....Bright Shiny Morning is an execrable novel, a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining."
"Synopsis" by , The #1 New York Times bestselling author delivers his first novel. In a sweeping narrative that encompasses the history of Los Angeles, Frey focuses on a handful of lost souls, and spins the gripping narrative of their lives.
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