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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.

Topics: California, United States of America, and Race Relations

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061795640
List price: $9.99
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I really enjoyed this. the prose,the characters,the flow...everything!read more
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James Frey has once again stolen my heart, chopped it up, sewed it back together with rugged lines and sharp edges, and replaced it. My eyes are eternally opened whenever I read one of his novels, because living in East Coast suburbia oftentimes makes me forget about the 'other'. I love this book. Frey's erratic sentence structure and lack of punctuation initially annoyed me, but by page 3 I was consummed in the stories. Frey is a master storyteller because he knows what we want to read. We want to read about people like us so we know we're not the only ones in our situation. On the other hand, we want to read about people who are better off than us (celebrities, their kids, their agents) and worse off than us (Joe the homeless Chablis-loving gentleman, Dylan and Maddie the teen runaways, Esperanza the 'thick' and only legal Mexican living in a 17-person home).read more
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I think the blurb on the back of this novel (audiobook, in this case) perfectly describes it: "Dozens of characters pass across the listener's consciousness -- but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA's lost souls and captures the dramatic narrative of their lives . . . ." Despite the controversy following "A Million Little Pieces", I found that book to be well-written & I'm now convinced to an even greater degree that James Frey can write. True, his style is rather scattered & unconventional and may put some readers off. And that does indeed tend to create a little bit of confusion when trying to distinguish dialogue & narrative. But I also think that's what makes Frey unique. His books are the type that you can sit down and devour because you just find yourself sucked in & have trouble putting the book down. This book in particular provides the reader with more of an experience as opposed to a story. Taken in pieces, it's a mixture of snapshots, dialogues, characterizations, dramas, histories, & statistics somehow related to Los Angeles, but it's meshed in such a way that it fits altogether, despite its various formats. I listened to this on audio & thought it was very well done by the reader, Ben Foster. My only minor criticisms would be that sometimes the statistics were a bit lengthy (esp. on audio, where you can't really skim over them) and there was a rather excessive use of the "F" word throughout, which might be offensive to some. Overall, this was a very engaging read & highly recommended.read more
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When I picked up Bright Shiny Morning on audio, I was elated to find out Ben Foster was reading it. If you’ve seen Foster’s movies, you’ll know he never does anything half way (except for maybe the Disney Channel’s Flash Forward). And he brought that intensity to this reading even when it didn’t suit the material. This disjointed effect is the very least of the novels issues for me, and what Ben brings to the more serious packages is brilliant. But as much as I enjoyed Ben’s reading, audio is not the way to go on this one. Frey tells the stories of Los Angeles residents up and down the food chain, but in-between every narrative passage or profiles of a resident (some of which go no where), we get LA history, trivia, facts, lists. It is almost like he grabbed a travel guide to intersperse with the novel, or he included all of his research on the cities setting just so we’d know that he did it. The lists are the worst. Frey lists something like gang names or LA disabled veterans or prestigious artists, and these lists drag on for minutes. And since it was audio I was held captive as I could not skim some of these lengthy inclusions as I know anyone who read this book must have done at some point. The lists are interesting and at times moving, but I don’t want to read one every ten pages or so in a work of fiction.One of my other pet peeves is the use of repeated phrases for emphasis which Frey worked to exhaustion in this novel. Try using skill in diction instead of hitting us over the head with the same phrases. When the language calls attention to itself it dissipates the tension of otherwise incredibly gripping or moving passages. Frey it seems can’t help call attention to his rendition in his gimmick and overworked novel. This is a shame because some of the stories are very engrossing particularly an American maid of Mexican decent coming into her own and a closeted A-list movie star who falls in love with an emotionally distant up and coming agent. These narratives were not enough to save the construction which was not cohesive. I do understand that the novel is everything LA and the detailing and criticizing of LA culture is more important then any one story or theme, but a good novel should offer some narrative direction. This chief complaint could be why some will rave about the book, so Frey fans, anyone who lives in or around LA or those fascinated by it, will probably enjoy it. Give yourself an out though by skipping the audio version just in case some serious skimming is in order.read more
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Wow. As a native of Los Angeles (though long removed), I appreciated James Frey's treatment of the pulse of LA. There is so much more to Los Angeles than the glittery facade seen (and dreamt of) on TV or the Silver Screen. His writing style should be considered very annoying, BUT it works so well in Bright Shiny Morning; the use of oddly constructed run-on sentences developed an almost poetic cadence. And his use of lists and odd facts--brilliant! An excellent read for those of us who have seen (and lived in) the background of LA.read more
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I have no complaints. The long lists did not bother me too much. My first ever book by this author. Because Los Angeles is such a mystery to me, I am happy to find out as much about it as possible. I have only been there 2 times, believe it or not, once in 1968 or 1969, with my parents, and once in 1980 with a school field trip. Those two short trips make it even more mysterious and mythical for me. I am just as hungry to know more about it as all those movie-star and artist, and fame-seeking wannabees discussed in the novel. It brought back memories also, oddly enough, of watching one of the earliest movie roles of Ted Danson, The Onion Fields, which, if I am not mistaken, takes place in Los Angeles. Yes, some day I hope to go back.Probably like most people, I was a combination of heartbroken and indignant when I found out the things that happened to Maddie and Dylan. The existence of malevolent, unrepentant evil is hard to stomach in real life, or in a novel, does not matter which. Another oddball echo that caught my attention was Old Man Joe and his cronies, and how much they seem similar to a similar gang in The Camel Club and the other similar books with the members of the Camel Club, by David Baldacci. Of course, the members of the Camel Club are not homeless, and Old Man Joe is primarily a loner, or at least he never seems to enlist the aid of his friends, including Lemonade, until relatively late in the novel. Plainly the Camel Club members meet very regularly. Probably an insignificant observation, but now I have made it. If anyone else wants to comment, please go ahead.Overall, I am satisfied with the book. Whatever complaints a person might have about the prose style, novelistic format, or dialog style, the fact remains that Dylan, Maddie, Esperanza and Old Man Joe all remain very captivating characters. I am not sure whether to include Amberton in this, as he seems much more of a vehicle for satire than anything else. I guess I am just angry at him for being such a jerk. If he was really serious about the nasty things he had been promising to do to Kevin and members of his family, then there is truly no redeemable quality about him--Amberton.read more
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I'm still reading James Frey's new book, Bright Shiny Morning -- 150 pages to go.What keeps me going is I've always found Los Angeles fascinating, as a place and as a symbol.The book is about L.A.L.A. is the main character.L.A. is the only thing holding the narrative together.There's just enough there to keep me going, but I can't say I'd recommend the book to anyone. Unless Frey manages to pull everything together at the end. Which I still hope he can do. But I doubt it.At times I've been tempted to throw the book through a window or tear it into a million little pieces, a million little pieces. The writing is that bad. Sometimes. Sometimes it's brilliant though. Sometimes it really works.The book got a great review in the New York Times. Said Frey redeemed himself.Good, I thought.I had been waiting for Frey to come out with a novel, not a phony memoir like A Million Little Pieces (which I loved and later hated because it was all a lie).Oddly, the book doesn't say "A Novel" on the cover or anywhere else. There's just the title and the author's name and that page at the beginning that says:"Nothing about this book should be considered accurate or reliable."Nice touch.Then, between each chapter, you're treated to a historical anecdote. And whole chapters are devoted to fun facts and not fun facts about L.A. There are chapters about the highway system, about the neighborhoods, about the rockers, surfers, slaves, and stars who make up the City of Dreams.Characters come and go and a few of them come back but not as many as you would think.The irony is that this work of fiction has more facts in it than Frey's so-called memoir.Not that I can vouch for their accuracy.read more
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Although the four main themes that run through the book may all seem rather cliche by themselves, they are interesting and alive against the backdrop of the story of LA. I loved the way the story was woven around the history of LA and the Fun Facts. Frey's writing style is current and refreshing. The audio book was read masterfully by Ben Foster--such enthusiasm and feeling for the story. I doubt if the author himself could have done a better job. Thoroughly enjoyable.read more
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Had a lot of L.A. history in this book, very interesting, my husband and I both enjoyed the history part of the book and the people in the book also. You might think twice before going off to L.A. for a vacation.read more
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it was a blue book she had had enough this book.
Walked into the room. spoke.
If there was such a thing as no stars. Yeah, that's it.
No stars.read more
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I read the New York Times review of this book and knew I had to read it. After the Oprah thing I started A Million Little Pieces and it sucked so I didn't finish it. But this book, this book...Frey is a great writer. The people in here were so amazing, and I had to (HAD TO!) find out what was going to happen. The "factoids" were such a perfect way to underscore the conflicts, the relationships, the interaction that seems like it might be partial to L.A. (or some other planet, anyway). There was so much tragedy but a little bit of happiness won out, which made me glad. I cannot wait to see what Frey writes next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!read more
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I did not like this book. James Frey needs a good editor. It was just ... bad. A rough first draft to put it nicely. Dylan and Maddie were the only characters he thought to really develop, the rest are cardboard cutouts and their narratives are a jumbled mass of clichés.read more
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James Frey is at his best describing the edge of society, getting into the heads of the people who try and struggle instead of having it all. Bret Easton Ellis says on the back that this man can write, and yes he can! But Ellis is better in describing the madness of the rich in much more detail, with Frey they stay flat. But still, a remarkable book about people sharing the same city and perhaps look for the same thing without knowing it.read more
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A simple plan. Take 4 short story ideas, realise you dont really have enough material for novel, and fill it out with a potted history of LA, potted biographies of dimly recognisable characters (Perez Hilton anyone?) and lists of....people, some real, some not. Irritating in its simplicity, simplistic in its style. And yet even more irritatingly it works. The 4 main characters don't really bear close examination - they are more charicature than character, close to cartoons in the case of Amberton Parker. Esperanza (err...hope) is the stereotypical good girl of hard working immigrant parents, ,Old Man Joe a wino who's motivations....hey he's a wino, what motivation does he need?.....are only explored in the last few pages, Dylan and Maddie the classic teenagers on the run who's fate you can see coming for 300 pages...But as I say it works. Its gripping, engaging, and I love a list. But neither do I feel any interest in finding out any more about any of the characters / charicatures / cartoons. A briefly satisfying entertainment, unlikely to linger long. Much like a Hollywood film in factread more
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At first I found this book a little hard to get into but after about 30 pages I really got into it. I wanted to know more about the 4 main characters in the book. I found the way Frey brought in many different fact about LA fascinating and I found myself drawn into the book. I would say if there was one main character it is the city itself rather than the people who inhabit it. That being said, I did find the book a little bleak but I suppose that is the way life crumbles sometimes. I give this book a 4 out of 5read more
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A lovely book... very captivating and easy to read. The impression it gives of LA is sort of depressing overall... but it was entertaining at least. As I was reading it I could almost see the movie version already...read more
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The review copy arrived Saturday morning, 500 pages! Saturday evening I though I'd better make a start, I read a few of hours but must get some sleep. Sunday morning I pick it up again - Sunday lunch time I closed the book - phew! - is it finished so soon?It is a story and many stories - of the people of Los Angeles. Four major stories run at frequent intervals throughout the book, each centred on and individual or couple, they are self contained and never interconnect. In addition there are the stories of numerous other Los Angeles residents; some run to many pages while others might be covered in just a few, a paragraph or just a line. Finally there is the story of Los Angeles itself, facts, figures, events and stories about the city, which along with the four main stories runs throughout the book (although a disclaimer warns the reader not to trust anything in the book).The four main stories: Amberton and his wife have the perfect family; they are both film stars at the top of their profession, adored by all. But their happy marriage is a cover for they are both gay, and the arrangement provides cover which allows them to follow their inclinations in private. All is well until Amberton meets ex-football star Kevin, big, black and irresistible. Amberton is in love, but will the path of love be smooth? Esperanza is the only daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is intelligent, shy, and attractive, but she has big thighs. To finance her education she works as a cleaner for a wealthy but demanding and unappreciative widow. She has been chaste and not found true love, but when the wealthy widow's chubby and cheerful son returns home will Esperanza's fortune change?Dylan and Maddie are teenage runaways, seeking to make a new life for themselves having each escaped abusive parents. They are deeply in love, but is that enough to see them through all the trials before them?Joe is lives on the streets, or more precisely the floor of a washroom, his fellow tramps consider him wise, but he questions his lot in life.Altogether it makes for a most fascinating read. Interesting, witty, involving, funny, deeply moving, entertaining, hilarious, shocking, informative, sad, rewarding, enlightening; I was captivated from the start, and Mr Frey cleverly maintains interest with frequent cliff-hangers as each story unfolds and finally reaches is conclusion; sometimes the protagonists come out of their ordeals well, but not always. But more importantly he has created numerous interesting characters about whom we care. Combined with that his no-nonsense yet appealing prose, which ranges from a quick-fire delivery to more intimate passages, holds the readers attention from start to finish. I have enjoyed James Frey's previous efforts, but here he has really excelled himself. Perhaps it is because while being entertaining the book also makes the reader think and question: what really matters, what is of true value, why do some seem to have it all while others have nothing?- Highly recommended.read more
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I loved this book. I picked up Bright Shiny Morning after taking a brief hiatus from reading earlier this year, and I didn't put it down until I tearfully read the last few pages. I'm a little at a loss for how to describe the book. It is primarily four stories about people living in Los Angeles and making lives for themselves within the city's different subcultures. These range from the "perfect" Hollywood power couple to the group of homeless men who live in public restrooms on the beach. Frey intersperses these core stories with shorter vignettes about characters we only meet briefly and with general trivia and historical information about Los Angeles. James Frey has a unique writing style to be sure. It's choppy in some places and long-winded in others. It takes a little getting used to, but I came to find it charming. Bright Shiny Morning is a quick and engaging read. I recommend it.read more
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This was a fantastic book! I love Frey's style, very Kerouac, with little regard for punctuation, grammar or "appropriate language". This story is about LA, and the characters help to flesh out the wild contrasts between the lifestyles in LA: The extraordinarily rich (struggling with choices of WHICH $10,000 suit to wear...), the homeless (choices of which bottle of wine and how long you need to panhandle to get it), the immigrants (coping with daily racism, family struggles and the desire for their children to succeed), and the every day people who move to LA hoping for a better life away from their dysfunctional families. In between on-going storylines you have sections of history of LA (short) and "fun facts"; statistics about bizarre laws, etc. that make LA unique. I started this book reluctantly, as I had heard about the strange style of this book (jumping from one character to another, some to never be heard from again). But that tendency died out early in the book and Frey started to narrow his focus on a handful of characters in more depth. Like his previous two books, this story is told with great passion, romance, realism and humor. Frey is a very creative and innovative artist and I'm sick of people who choose to focus on the lie/Oprah thing and completely avoid the fact that he is a great, creative writer!read more
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I’ve never been to Los Angeles nor have I ever had the desire to visit. Reading James Frey’s book just confirms my gut instinct to stay away from LA, stay away at all cost. That being said, Frey’s novel is a tour de force of contemporary fiction. Frey’s characters follow the American Dream west until the land stops, and it seemingly always stops in LA. Multi-layered vignettes interspersed with history and facts of Los Angeles County end up giving the reader a realistic picture of modern LA. Whether from the perspective of an immigrant family, two Midwest teens escaping their oppressive home life, a beach bum, or the biggest movie star in the world, these parallel universes depict Los Angeles for the nightmare that far more often results from chasing or even attaining the dream than the illusory fairy tale ending. Incorporating a reportage writing style (I wonder if this is ironic or intentional given Frey’s Oprah moment) the book nonetheless is an indictment on the mirage that is Hollywood. One is left to conclude that the people who weave in and out of the novel are enslaved to their circumstances regardless of the purported idyllic surroundings. As the novel winds down it is indicated that LA, in some aspects, is the new New York. Perhaps so, but with the new NY you get the old NY problems too; congestion, vice, violence, mass poverty, and inequity of power. There may be a bright shiny morning somewhere and it may not be in NY but it surely isn’t in LA either.read more
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Loved this book! Just finished reading and despite the length, I was able to finish it quickly because it was such an entertaining and interesting novel. All of the stories are against the backdrop of LA and I appreciated the historical facts about the city interwoven in each chapter.read more
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I really enjoyed this. the prose,the characters,the flow...everything!
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James Frey has once again stolen my heart, chopped it up, sewed it back together with rugged lines and sharp edges, and replaced it. My eyes are eternally opened whenever I read one of his novels, because living in East Coast suburbia oftentimes makes me forget about the 'other'. I love this book. Frey's erratic sentence structure and lack of punctuation initially annoyed me, but by page 3 I was consummed in the stories. Frey is a master storyteller because he knows what we want to read. We want to read about people like us so we know we're not the only ones in our situation. On the other hand, we want to read about people who are better off than us (celebrities, their kids, their agents) and worse off than us (Joe the homeless Chablis-loving gentleman, Dylan and Maddie the teen runaways, Esperanza the 'thick' and only legal Mexican living in a 17-person home).
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I think the blurb on the back of this novel (audiobook, in this case) perfectly describes it: "Dozens of characters pass across the listener's consciousness -- but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA's lost souls and captures the dramatic narrative of their lives . . . ." Despite the controversy following "A Million Little Pieces", I found that book to be well-written & I'm now convinced to an even greater degree that James Frey can write. True, his style is rather scattered & unconventional and may put some readers off. And that does indeed tend to create a little bit of confusion when trying to distinguish dialogue & narrative. But I also think that's what makes Frey unique. His books are the type that you can sit down and devour because you just find yourself sucked in & have trouble putting the book down. This book in particular provides the reader with more of an experience as opposed to a story. Taken in pieces, it's a mixture of snapshots, dialogues, characterizations, dramas, histories, & statistics somehow related to Los Angeles, but it's meshed in such a way that it fits altogether, despite its various formats. I listened to this on audio & thought it was very well done by the reader, Ben Foster. My only minor criticisms would be that sometimes the statistics were a bit lengthy (esp. on audio, where you can't really skim over them) and there was a rather excessive use of the "F" word throughout, which might be offensive to some. Overall, this was a very engaging read & highly recommended.
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When I picked up Bright Shiny Morning on audio, I was elated to find out Ben Foster was reading it. If you’ve seen Foster’s movies, you’ll know he never does anything half way (except for maybe the Disney Channel’s Flash Forward). And he brought that intensity to this reading even when it didn’t suit the material. This disjointed effect is the very least of the novels issues for me, and what Ben brings to the more serious packages is brilliant. But as much as I enjoyed Ben’s reading, audio is not the way to go on this one. Frey tells the stories of Los Angeles residents up and down the food chain, but in-between every narrative passage or profiles of a resident (some of which go no where), we get LA history, trivia, facts, lists. It is almost like he grabbed a travel guide to intersperse with the novel, or he included all of his research on the cities setting just so we’d know that he did it. The lists are the worst. Frey lists something like gang names or LA disabled veterans or prestigious artists, and these lists drag on for minutes. And since it was audio I was held captive as I could not skim some of these lengthy inclusions as I know anyone who read this book must have done at some point. The lists are interesting and at times moving, but I don’t want to read one every ten pages or so in a work of fiction.One of my other pet peeves is the use of repeated phrases for emphasis which Frey worked to exhaustion in this novel. Try using skill in diction instead of hitting us over the head with the same phrases. When the language calls attention to itself it dissipates the tension of otherwise incredibly gripping or moving passages. Frey it seems can’t help call attention to his rendition in his gimmick and overworked novel. This is a shame because some of the stories are very engrossing particularly an American maid of Mexican decent coming into her own and a closeted A-list movie star who falls in love with an emotionally distant up and coming agent. These narratives were not enough to save the construction which was not cohesive. I do understand that the novel is everything LA and the detailing and criticizing of LA culture is more important then any one story or theme, but a good novel should offer some narrative direction. This chief complaint could be why some will rave about the book, so Frey fans, anyone who lives in or around LA or those fascinated by it, will probably enjoy it. Give yourself an out though by skipping the audio version just in case some serious skimming is in order.
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Wow. As a native of Los Angeles (though long removed), I appreciated James Frey's treatment of the pulse of LA. There is so much more to Los Angeles than the glittery facade seen (and dreamt of) on TV or the Silver Screen. His writing style should be considered very annoying, BUT it works so well in Bright Shiny Morning; the use of oddly constructed run-on sentences developed an almost poetic cadence. And his use of lists and odd facts--brilliant! An excellent read for those of us who have seen (and lived in) the background of LA.
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I have no complaints. The long lists did not bother me too much. My first ever book by this author. Because Los Angeles is such a mystery to me, I am happy to find out as much about it as possible. I have only been there 2 times, believe it or not, once in 1968 or 1969, with my parents, and once in 1980 with a school field trip. Those two short trips make it even more mysterious and mythical for me. I am just as hungry to know more about it as all those movie-star and artist, and fame-seeking wannabees discussed in the novel. It brought back memories also, oddly enough, of watching one of the earliest movie roles of Ted Danson, The Onion Fields, which, if I am not mistaken, takes place in Los Angeles. Yes, some day I hope to go back.Probably like most people, I was a combination of heartbroken and indignant when I found out the things that happened to Maddie and Dylan. The existence of malevolent, unrepentant evil is hard to stomach in real life, or in a novel, does not matter which. Another oddball echo that caught my attention was Old Man Joe and his cronies, and how much they seem similar to a similar gang in The Camel Club and the other similar books with the members of the Camel Club, by David Baldacci. Of course, the members of the Camel Club are not homeless, and Old Man Joe is primarily a loner, or at least he never seems to enlist the aid of his friends, including Lemonade, until relatively late in the novel. Plainly the Camel Club members meet very regularly. Probably an insignificant observation, but now I have made it. If anyone else wants to comment, please go ahead.Overall, I am satisfied with the book. Whatever complaints a person might have about the prose style, novelistic format, or dialog style, the fact remains that Dylan, Maddie, Esperanza and Old Man Joe all remain very captivating characters. I am not sure whether to include Amberton in this, as he seems much more of a vehicle for satire than anything else. I guess I am just angry at him for being such a jerk. If he was really serious about the nasty things he had been promising to do to Kevin and members of his family, then there is truly no redeemable quality about him--Amberton.
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I'm still reading James Frey's new book, Bright Shiny Morning -- 150 pages to go.What keeps me going is I've always found Los Angeles fascinating, as a place and as a symbol.The book is about L.A.L.A. is the main character.L.A. is the only thing holding the narrative together.There's just enough there to keep me going, but I can't say I'd recommend the book to anyone. Unless Frey manages to pull everything together at the end. Which I still hope he can do. But I doubt it.At times I've been tempted to throw the book through a window or tear it into a million little pieces, a million little pieces. The writing is that bad. Sometimes. Sometimes it's brilliant though. Sometimes it really works.The book got a great review in the New York Times. Said Frey redeemed himself.Good, I thought.I had been waiting for Frey to come out with a novel, not a phony memoir like A Million Little Pieces (which I loved and later hated because it was all a lie).Oddly, the book doesn't say "A Novel" on the cover or anywhere else. There's just the title and the author's name and that page at the beginning that says:"Nothing about this book should be considered accurate or reliable."Nice touch.Then, between each chapter, you're treated to a historical anecdote. And whole chapters are devoted to fun facts and not fun facts about L.A. There are chapters about the highway system, about the neighborhoods, about the rockers, surfers, slaves, and stars who make up the City of Dreams.Characters come and go and a few of them come back but not as many as you would think.The irony is that this work of fiction has more facts in it than Frey's so-called memoir.Not that I can vouch for their accuracy.
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Although the four main themes that run through the book may all seem rather cliche by themselves, they are interesting and alive against the backdrop of the story of LA. I loved the way the story was woven around the history of LA and the Fun Facts. Frey's writing style is current and refreshing. The audio book was read masterfully by Ben Foster--such enthusiasm and feeling for the story. I doubt if the author himself could have done a better job. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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Had a lot of L.A. history in this book, very interesting, my husband and I both enjoyed the history part of the book and the people in the book also. You might think twice before going off to L.A. for a vacation.
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it was a blue book she had had enough this book.
Walked into the room. spoke.
If there was such a thing as no stars. Yeah, that's it.
No stars.
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I read the New York Times review of this book and knew I had to read it. After the Oprah thing I started A Million Little Pieces and it sucked so I didn't finish it. But this book, this book...Frey is a great writer. The people in here were so amazing, and I had to (HAD TO!) find out what was going to happen. The "factoids" were such a perfect way to underscore the conflicts, the relationships, the interaction that seems like it might be partial to L.A. (or some other planet, anyway). There was so much tragedy but a little bit of happiness won out, which made me glad. I cannot wait to see what Frey writes next!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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I did not like this book. James Frey needs a good editor. It was just ... bad. A rough first draft to put it nicely. Dylan and Maddie were the only characters he thought to really develop, the rest are cardboard cutouts and their narratives are a jumbled mass of clichés.
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James Frey is at his best describing the edge of society, getting into the heads of the people who try and struggle instead of having it all. Bret Easton Ellis says on the back that this man can write, and yes he can! But Ellis is better in describing the madness of the rich in much more detail, with Frey they stay flat. But still, a remarkable book about people sharing the same city and perhaps look for the same thing without knowing it.
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A simple plan. Take 4 short story ideas, realise you dont really have enough material for novel, and fill it out with a potted history of LA, potted biographies of dimly recognisable characters (Perez Hilton anyone?) and lists of....people, some real, some not. Irritating in its simplicity, simplistic in its style. And yet even more irritatingly it works. The 4 main characters don't really bear close examination - they are more charicature than character, close to cartoons in the case of Amberton Parker. Esperanza (err...hope) is the stereotypical good girl of hard working immigrant parents, ,Old Man Joe a wino who's motivations....hey he's a wino, what motivation does he need?.....are only explored in the last few pages, Dylan and Maddie the classic teenagers on the run who's fate you can see coming for 300 pages...But as I say it works. Its gripping, engaging, and I love a list. But neither do I feel any interest in finding out any more about any of the characters / charicatures / cartoons. A briefly satisfying entertainment, unlikely to linger long. Much like a Hollywood film in fact
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At first I found this book a little hard to get into but after about 30 pages I really got into it. I wanted to know more about the 4 main characters in the book. I found the way Frey brought in many different fact about LA fascinating and I found myself drawn into the book. I would say if there was one main character it is the city itself rather than the people who inhabit it. That being said, I did find the book a little bleak but I suppose that is the way life crumbles sometimes. I give this book a 4 out of 5
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A lovely book... very captivating and easy to read. The impression it gives of LA is sort of depressing overall... but it was entertaining at least. As I was reading it I could almost see the movie version already...
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The review copy arrived Saturday morning, 500 pages! Saturday evening I though I'd better make a start, I read a few of hours but must get some sleep. Sunday morning I pick it up again - Sunday lunch time I closed the book - phew! - is it finished so soon?It is a story and many stories - of the people of Los Angeles. Four major stories run at frequent intervals throughout the book, each centred on and individual or couple, they are self contained and never interconnect. In addition there are the stories of numerous other Los Angeles residents; some run to many pages while others might be covered in just a few, a paragraph or just a line. Finally there is the story of Los Angeles itself, facts, figures, events and stories about the city, which along with the four main stories runs throughout the book (although a disclaimer warns the reader not to trust anything in the book).The four main stories: Amberton and his wife have the perfect family; they are both film stars at the top of their profession, adored by all. But their happy marriage is a cover for they are both gay, and the arrangement provides cover which allows them to follow their inclinations in private. All is well until Amberton meets ex-football star Kevin, big, black and irresistible. Amberton is in love, but will the path of love be smooth? Esperanza is the only daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is intelligent, shy, and attractive, but she has big thighs. To finance her education she works as a cleaner for a wealthy but demanding and unappreciative widow. She has been chaste and not found true love, but when the wealthy widow's chubby and cheerful son returns home will Esperanza's fortune change?Dylan and Maddie are teenage runaways, seeking to make a new life for themselves having each escaped abusive parents. They are deeply in love, but is that enough to see them through all the trials before them?Joe is lives on the streets, or more precisely the floor of a washroom, his fellow tramps consider him wise, but he questions his lot in life.Altogether it makes for a most fascinating read. Interesting, witty, involving, funny, deeply moving, entertaining, hilarious, shocking, informative, sad, rewarding, enlightening; I was captivated from the start, and Mr Frey cleverly maintains interest with frequent cliff-hangers as each story unfolds and finally reaches is conclusion; sometimes the protagonists come out of their ordeals well, but not always. But more importantly he has created numerous interesting characters about whom we care. Combined with that his no-nonsense yet appealing prose, which ranges from a quick-fire delivery to more intimate passages, holds the readers attention from start to finish. I have enjoyed James Frey's previous efforts, but here he has really excelled himself. Perhaps it is because while being entertaining the book also makes the reader think and question: what really matters, what is of true value, why do some seem to have it all while others have nothing?- Highly recommended.
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I loved this book. I picked up Bright Shiny Morning after taking a brief hiatus from reading earlier this year, and I didn't put it down until I tearfully read the last few pages. I'm a little at a loss for how to describe the book. It is primarily four stories about people living in Los Angeles and making lives for themselves within the city's different subcultures. These range from the "perfect" Hollywood power couple to the group of homeless men who live in public restrooms on the beach. Frey intersperses these core stories with shorter vignettes about characters we only meet briefly and with general trivia and historical information about Los Angeles. James Frey has a unique writing style to be sure. It's choppy in some places and long-winded in others. It takes a little getting used to, but I came to find it charming. Bright Shiny Morning is a quick and engaging read. I recommend it.
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This was a fantastic book! I love Frey's style, very Kerouac, with little regard for punctuation, grammar or "appropriate language". This story is about LA, and the characters help to flesh out the wild contrasts between the lifestyles in LA: The extraordinarily rich (struggling with choices of WHICH $10,000 suit to wear...), the homeless (choices of which bottle of wine and how long you need to panhandle to get it), the immigrants (coping with daily racism, family struggles and the desire for their children to succeed), and the every day people who move to LA hoping for a better life away from their dysfunctional families. In between on-going storylines you have sections of history of LA (short) and "fun facts"; statistics about bizarre laws, etc. that make LA unique. I started this book reluctantly, as I had heard about the strange style of this book (jumping from one character to another, some to never be heard from again). But that tendency died out early in the book and Frey started to narrow his focus on a handful of characters in more depth. Like his previous two books, this story is told with great passion, romance, realism and humor. Frey is a very creative and innovative artist and I'm sick of people who choose to focus on the lie/Oprah thing and completely avoid the fact that he is a great, creative writer!
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I’ve never been to Los Angeles nor have I ever had the desire to visit. Reading James Frey’s book just confirms my gut instinct to stay away from LA, stay away at all cost. That being said, Frey’s novel is a tour de force of contemporary fiction. Frey’s characters follow the American Dream west until the land stops, and it seemingly always stops in LA. Multi-layered vignettes interspersed with history and facts of Los Angeles County end up giving the reader a realistic picture of modern LA. Whether from the perspective of an immigrant family, two Midwest teens escaping their oppressive home life, a beach bum, or the biggest movie star in the world, these parallel universes depict Los Angeles for the nightmare that far more often results from chasing or even attaining the dream than the illusory fairy tale ending. Incorporating a reportage writing style (I wonder if this is ironic or intentional given Frey’s Oprah moment) the book nonetheless is an indictment on the mirage that is Hollywood. One is left to conclude that the people who weave in and out of the novel are enslaved to their circumstances regardless of the purported idyllic surroundings. As the novel winds down it is indicated that LA, in some aspects, is the new New York. Perhaps so, but with the new NY you get the old NY problems too; congestion, vice, violence, mass poverty, and inequity of power. There may be a bright shiny morning somewhere and it may not be in NY but it surely isn’t in LA either.
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Loved this book! Just finished reading and despite the length, I was able to finish it quickly because it was such an entertaining and interesting novel. All of the stories are against the backdrop of LA and I appreciated the historical facts about the city interwoven in each chapter.
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