A Lively and Vicious Portrayal of Los Angeles — by Andrew Rayment

by capreviewroom

“Bright Shiny Morning”, a novel written by James Frey, is a moving, uniquely written novel set in Los Angeles that follows the lives of 4 central characters as they face the struggles of their daily lives. Dozens of characters appear through the narrative painting a lively but vicious portrayal of modern day Los Angeles. Unfortunately, no matter how unique and engaging the writing style is, the book feels at times to be plagued by clichés and unresolved plots leaving the readers unsatisfied and ultimately disappointed.


The four central plots, involving two runaway teens, an American born girl faking her background to an unruly employer, a Hollywood superstar hiding his sexuality, and a homeless man trying to redeem himself, are all engaging and give the reader a reason to read through the long, 510 page novel. The characters are interesting and provide a sense of naturalism and realism to the reader, but they also leave a slightly sour taste. Readers will feel like they have met all these characters before and can almost guess every outcome of the central stories. Twists and turns do occur, but you cannot help but feel a sense of ‘been there, done that” at countless times throughout the novel.


For this reason, the side stories that fill the majority of the book are usually more interesting to read and are the reason why people rave out this book. Their tales are short, usually no more than two pages, but they are the stories that paint the picture of Los Angeles. They are the stories that reveal the side of Los Angeles that is ignored and covered up by the media. The real Los Angeles.


One thing that may be off putting to many is the way in which grammar is ignored a lot of the time throughout the novel. For some, it may make passages awkward and clunky, yet for some it will be easier to read and digest; sounding almost like the thoughts running through your mind rather than beautifully crafted sentences. Despite being long in the amount of pages, the novel is not very long due to the simplicity of the text and the staggering amount of empty space on the pages.


“Bright Shiny Morning” is a very good book using Los Angeles as its central characters and almost making the human characters take a backseat in the progression of the novel. While it is unique and very engaging to read, the clichés and flat ending will leave readers with almost no sense of resolution. It may not the definitive novel of the new millennium, but it is a highly recommended read.




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