A Worthwhile Read In Spite of Itself – Clint Ledding

by capreviewroom

The novel Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey consists of multiple main plot lines and some smaller and shorter plot lines which, with numerous historical and statistical facts, contribute to an overall feel of the city of Los Angeles.  The main plot lines consist of an old man trying to understand his place in the world, a young couple moving away from abusive parents to try to find a life of their own, a young woman of immigrant parents who is trying to take advantage of the opportunities her parents have given her and trying to find love, and a very rich movie star who struggles to keep his double life from slipping through the cracks and ruining his career.

This novel can both capture a reader and/or disinterest the reader.  This sounds contradictory but it is accurate as the stories which make up the novel are extremely dissimilar and polychromatic.  The format for the novel helps to further the feelings of such diversity as the novel can switch the focal point from a homeless man to a rich movie star whose only commonalities are the city they live in.  This aspect can be both jarring and/or engaging and I believe it is the fact that the stories switch so choppily that the divide between people who love the novel and those who hate it is so great.  This is seen especially on pages 189-195 where the focal point of the novel switches from a rich gay actor to a young couple involved in a biker gang, to an immigrant worker in love with her employer’s son.

I myself sit somewhere in the middle of the divide as I was forced by lack of interest to skip some stories and lists of statistics and accounts of tragedy or frustration with the layout or events of the city of Los Angeles.  I think that the parts of the book which I just listed do not fit well into the overarching message that well and that they only help to jar the reader further.  Stories such as old man Joe and Esperenza I found interesting at first but soon became long winded and boring.  I must say that once I started skipping the statistics, which seen thrown in only to spite the city of LA, and skipping the stale old man Joe and Esperenza stories I found the novel quite enjoyable and found that it had messages inside worth sloshing towards, especially in the Dylan and Maddie stories.

I think that this book is a good book in spite of itself and that it is indeed worth the read.  It can be enjoyable if you have the patience to work through and find which stories suite you best.  It may even be a strength to have such dissimilar stories spread out through the book as I’m sure most people could find redeemable qualities throughout.


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