No, just kidding. It wasn’t that bad. Long as all get out, though.

Bright Shiny Morning

James Frey

HarperCollins Publishers

501 pages.


Bright Shiny Morning is either James Frey’s first novel or his third, depending on where you stand in the debate over the truthfulness of his memoirs A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. However you slice it, Bright Shiny Morning is a fascinating read that I just couldn’t put down.


The book consists of a series of vignettes of city life in Los Angeles. Each vignette is separated by facts about the city, from its founding to the present day. In Frey’s hands, the history of the region is anything but dull. He weaves history into the story seamlessly.

Frey captures the sprawl of the city, its pace, and its diversity in a way that is all his own. 


The book’s main character is the city itself. Frey’s love for the city is apparent, and yet he gives us an honest portrait of it, warts and all. Frey gives life to the city, gives it a pulse that resonates on every single page of the book.


There are dozens of characters in this book; all of them have come to Los Angeles to live out their dreams and ambitions. Frey gives us a wide and interesting array of characters, from the biggest movie star in Hollywood to a Mexican immigrant, and the reader gets to peek into all of their lives like a voyeur. Frey does a decent job with his character’s stories, but none of them compare to the way he writes about the city itself. Some of the character’s lives get sewn up a little too neatly and some of them are a little too naïve to be believable.


The book thumps along, not always as smoothly as it should; nevertheless, it keeps you reading. All in all, it wasn’t an overly original book, but it didn’t need to be. It’s rhythm and pacing kept it feeling fresh and new even when it wasn’t. An excellent use of sleight of hand, if you ask me.


I tried to put the book down to fall asleep but I couldn’t. I turned the lights off and lay awake for long time with the pulse of the city still beating in my head.




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