The fictional novel, Bright Shiny Morning written by author James Frey, most notable for his earlier controversial book a million little pieces, features a snapshot of his rendition of Los Angeles. The snapshot, driven by four individual stories, showcases the lives of somewhat broken individuals from different walks of life. From a “public heterosexual, private homosexual” Hollywood movie star to a homeless person plagued with alcoholism, the various characters’ troubled lives within the sunny city of Los Angeles were portrayed.
Each story of the book follows a character or multiple characters, a publicly closeted homosexual movie star named Amberton Parker, an alcoholic homeless person addicted to Chablis known only as Old Man Joe, a the couple whom escaped from dead-end lives Dylan and Maddie, and finally a Mexican family who crossed the border from Mexico to find a better life, with the most prominent character being the daughter of the family, Esperanza who is ashamed of her large thighs and works as a maid for the wealthy of Los Angeles.
Bright Shiny Morning does not follow a conventional layout for books; it has four independent stories split up into small sections and is fed to the reader in a mixed order while still following each story chronologically. The beginning of each section starts with a chapter in the history of the founding and continuation of the city of Los Angeles, and in between varying sections of the stories, small excerpts of facts and information about the city are to be found.
Frey’s portrayal of the city’s negative light seems to assault a place heralded as a wonderful place to live. He does a wonderful job providing readers with a different view of the city, and in some ways a more realistic view. Frey grant’s the reader a view behind the glamorous curtain of perceived lifestyles in Los Angeles, albeit in a fictional novel featuring fictional characters, there is some hints of realism resonating from the characters. Frey has written a successful novel and has in my opinion accomplished his goal in writing an invoking representation of Los Angeles.
By Anthony Yiu