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...
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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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"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."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"[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+)"
by The Washington Post Book World,
"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."
by Los Angeles Times,
"[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."
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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