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Bright Shiny Morning Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 13, 2008


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Bright Shiny Morning + My Friend Leonard + A Million Little Pieces
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061573132
  • ASIN: B002XULY0K
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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 naïve: 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 clichés. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Two years after Frey’s memoir "A Million Little Pieces" was outed as part fiction, the publicly chastised writer resurfaces with a novel much of which purports to be fact. Set in a Los Angeles populated by miniature-golf moguls, ex-beauty queens, gun-shop owners, debauched child actors, meth dealers, and yoginis in thongs, this gargantuan book is seeded, Melville-like, with chapters cataloguing the city’s snarled highways and quirky innovations (e.g., the world’s first video graveyard). The characters are relentlessly stock: two lovesick kids from the heartland ("nowhere anywhere everywhere"); a bulimic, closeted movie star with a "MEGAWATT!!!!!" smile; a Mexican-American maid with an abusive employer. Frey strives for incantatory but winds up with banal; when it comes to emotion, the best he can muster is "It’s deep, it’s true, and it’s real real real."
Copyright © 2008 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

More 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.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

420 of 468 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was the first to get the book from my local Barnes and Nobles and I know this because they told me this--I read a lot. I read Austen and Bronte. I read Hemingway and Faulkner. I read Mailer and Vidal. I read I read I read. You'll have to trust me when I say that I consider myself a literate person, a published writer, and a harsh and unbearable critic--of self and others--and I haven't read all of Bright Shiny Morning yet. I have read four hundred and ten pages of it. With the negative reviews that are to follow, I figured a partial review on my favorite place to buy books online would be appropriate to thin out what will surely be many an unjust review. Let's put aside that he's an embellisher in his memoirs (I could care less). Let's focus solely on the novel at hand. Let's start with the negatives.

Two Teens runaway from home to start a life together. (Cliche)
A blockbuster actor married to a beautiful woman is really gay. (Cliche)
A spanish nanny with a deformity who starts a relationships with the son of a client. (Cliche)
A homeless man who befriends a runaway. (Most assuredly cliche)
The writing is shoddily punctuated, annoyingly incomplete, and choppy. (You look and have to make sure you read it right).
The language is rough. (Constant swearing, difficult to read material)
The vignette excursions are sometimes annoying, sometimes interesting, sometimes boring, sometimes a miss, and sometimes a hit. (Some worked in the book, other's probably could've been left out).

Now I'll tell you why none of these negatives matter.
Read more ›
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42 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Mary W. Black on May 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was bought primarily because I felt bad about the crucifiction he faced with dignity on Oprah and I wanted to be supportive. I had not read any of his other works and was amazed at the raw soaring talent displayed within this book. I was enthralled from the first word to the last. Frey is an amazing writer and I will now buy everything he writes with eager anticipation..much like Poe, the reader knows without a doubt, that the writer has lived his story in some fashion, to make it so true to those who have and have not been there. In that equality lies the miracle. Mary W. Black, Flagstaff, AZ
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Talerman on May 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
500 pages in two sittings. I opened the book and was immersed in an utterly amazing character study, not of a person, but of a place, a city, a metropolis so vast and varied and unforgiving. A place of dreams and disasters. Of beauty an inch deep and a mile wide. Frey's depiction of L.A. is a masterpiece. But is it really a work of fiction?
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Cathi O'Sullivan on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I want to preface this review by saying that I am one of those people who couldn't care less if James Frey or his publishers (or whomever) called his first book, A Million Little Pieces, a memoir. The fact that is was a great piece of literature -- terrific story, great writing, and a truly compelling read -- is all that should matter at the end of the day. His next book, My Friend Leonard, was at least as good, if not better, and more than proved that James Frey was not a one-hit-wonder.

With that being said, I now want to gush about Bright Shiny Morning. No, it's not the least bit uplifting and it covers dark topics that many of us wish we could ignore. BUT...but the story is so well-told that you won't be able to put the book down...you will want to know what happens to each character, and why. You will be so instantly engrossed that even the unbelievably breathtaking views of the Caribbean will not cause you to lift your head up from the pages of this book. At least that was my experience.

READ IT! Then share with others. You won't be sorry.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Judith Briggs on July 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
When James Frey crashed and burned after a Million Little Pieces (which was a work of art) and was exposed as being a fictional book rather than an autobiography, I was crushed (because frankly, I could care less where the story came from). The book was brilliant and so was the author. He's back, and with a vengeance. This novel is genius, pure and simple. The facts mixed with fiction mixed with history combined with the reality of the characters' lives is golden. Do we not love Maddie and Dylan? Do we not ache for Old Man Joe, and hope upon hope, for Esperanza to fulfill the American Dream? Sickened and saddened by Amberton and Casey, Los Angeles at its finest! I love the story of the gossip columnist whom I suspected (I just had to research this one)and correctly so, was Perez Hilton. This is a magnificent story not to be missed; I wait with anticipation for his next novel to be published.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By G. Blake on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I did not read Million Little Pieces, but after Oprahs ridiculous self-absorbed scene I wanted to support James and just had a feeling that he was good.

Wow. I haven't enjoyed a book this much since The Corrections. This is a great book. JAMES FREY IS A BLESSING TO THIS WORLD.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Taffy Waffy on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This novel is a real mixed bag. Juvenile, cliched and unoriginal- yet it creeps in under your skin and you can't help but be hooked. Just read it- everyone is going to have a different opinion and you won't have yours until you do.
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