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Bright Shiny Morning: A Novel

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Bright Shiny Morning: A Novel Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Ricky hasn't had a job in four years. He used to work at a printing shop, but it closed due to advances in printing technology that allowed small businesses to do their own printing. He went on unemployment, it ran out, he couldn't find another job, printing shops all over the city were going under. He liked sitting at home watching television and drinking beer all day, so he stopped trying to find another job. He needed money, was trying to figure out how to get it, when a friend, a convicted felon, called him and asked him to buy a gun (felons can't buy firearms in California). He went to Larry's Firearms with the friend, bought a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and a California-legal assault rifle using the friend's money. When he got home with the weapons, he filed off the serial numbers. He charged his friend, who needed good weapons for his work, five hundred bucks.

That felon told another felon who told another felon. Ricky started making money. Under California law, he could only buy one handgun a month, but there was no limit on the number of assault rifles, and if needed, he could always go to Arizona or Nevada to circumvent the California law. He bought a set of files and some hydrochloric acid to make the serial numbers disappear properly. At this point, not one of the 300 firearms he has bought for convicted felons has been traced back to him.

He's in Larry's today with a man named John. John just got out of prison for manslaughter and wants an assault rifle. Ricky doesn't ask why, but John makes several comments about an ex-wife, a former business partner, and some missing money. Larry is showing them AKs and AR-15s, weapons that can be easily converted from semi-automatic to full automatic. Ricky, as per John's instructions, buys one of each. He also buys the parts that allow the conversion from semi-auto to full, and a book with instructions on exactly how to do it. Ricky will have to wait a day to pick up the weapons, and will need two more days to get rid of the serial numbers. At that point, he will turn them over to John, and if asked, will deny ever meeting him, speaking to him or having anything to do with him. What John does with the weapons is none of his business.

None.

***

He held a gun to her head, made her drive into the hills above Malibu, made her park at the end of a remote fire lane. He raped her in the backseat. He pistol-whipped her. He threw her into the dirt and drove away.

It took her four hours to find help. She went to the hospital, filed a police report. The incident was reported in the papers and on the local news. There were no fingerprints. There was no DNA.

She didn't tell her parents or her coworkers. She didn't want to hear I told you so, she didn't want any pity. She took her vacation and she stayed at home in bed and cried for two weeks. She called the detective working on her case twice a day, there were no leads.

When she went back to work, she was a different person, she no longer smiled, laughed, she ate lunch alone, she left at exactly five and never went out with her coworkers. The man she had dated that night called her and she never called back he called three more times she never called back. She saw a therapist it didn't help. She saw a rape counselor it didn't help. She saw a pastor it didn't help. She joined a support group it didn't help. She started drinking it didn't help.

She recognized him when he took her order at a fast-food restaurant.

He had worn a mask and she didn't see his face, but she knew his voice and she knew his eyes. He smiled at her as she ordered. He asked if they knew each other from somewhere. He asked her name. There was no mistaking the fact that he knew who she was, and he knew that she recognized him. He touched her hand as he passed her order over the counter. As she walked away, he smiled at her and said I hope to see you again.

She never went back to her job. She stopped leaving the house she was scared. She didn't pick up the phone or use her computer. She stared at the ceiling, at her pillow, at her wall. She never looked in the mirror.

This morning she woke up and she showered and, for the first time in months, she put on her makeup and did her hair. She looked beautiful, like the girl who had arrived from Indianapolis with dreams, with a future, with a life ahead of her. She went out for breakfast with two of her friends from work. She called the man who had taken her on the date and apologized for not calling him earlier. She sent e-mails to friends and called her parents. She told them all that she loved them.

When she was done she drove to Larry's Firearms. She bought a brand-new Colt .45. She submitted the information necessary to acquire the weapon.

She left with a smile. Tomorrow she's going to pick up the weapon, bring it home, load it. At that point, she will make the decision, find him and shoot him in the face and kill him, or put the gun in her own mouth and blow the back of her head away. Either way, she will think of him just before she pulls the trigger, think of him touching her and smiling at her, think of him standing behind the counter knowing that she recognized him. Either way, her life will be over. She is going to think of him touching her and smiling at her. She is going to pull the trigger.

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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...
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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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Product Details

ISBN:
9780061573132
Author:
Frey, James
Publisher:
HarperTorch
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:
HARDCOVER
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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