bright shiny morning review

by capreviewroom

Bright Shiny Morning: A Depiction of Los Angeles


                                                By:   Zachary Chester



            Bright Shiny Morning was written by James Frey after his controversial book  “A Million Little Pieces” which allegedly was mostly a fabricated memoir (James Frey Biography).  In 2008, Harper Collins published Bright Shiny Morning and it made the New York’s best sellers list. Frey who was born in Ohio in 1969 and currently lives in New York, spent a few years working in Los Angeles as a screenwriter, producer and director (James Frey Biography). He there met his wife and his inspiration for this novel.


            Bright Shiny Morning is based in Los Angeles and is about the lives of different people who help define the city.  At the start of each chapter, Frey offers some interesting factoids about L.A. and as his disclaimer statement reads at the beginning of the book “Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable” (Frey).  The four main stories (characters) frame the novel with many other minor characters subtly intertwined within the main narratives.  Old man Joe, homeless and living in a Venice Beach alley bathroom, drinks Chablis all day but longs to be a hero; Amberton Parker, a narcissistic, hidden homosexual A-list movie star who is always used to getting what he wants; Esperanza, a Mexican American-born young woman with abnormally large thighs who becomes a maid for a tyrant old woman because of a humiliating incident; Dylan and Maddy, a 19 year old couple who escaped their abusive, close-minded mid-Western upbringing in search of their dream out West.  Frey’s writing style does not have the typical grammatical boundaries that one would read in most books as he employs run-on sentences, missed punctuations, and repeated statements.  This though does add to the intensity of the narrations, and makes the book a casual ’read’.


The novel plays out like a Hollywood movie.  He uses the four main storylines along with the other not-so-memorable, nameless characters to paint a picture of L.A. as a not-so-glitzy somewhat shallow and sleazy city with opportunists lurking at every street corner.  Frey’s depiction of L.A. is fairly stereotypical with ‘the dream” being the main focal point and his characters, ones that we have seen and heard of before.  By adding the historical points and his descriptions of Los Angeles as a human mayhem make the characters’ scenarios more emotional and draws the reader into their lives; you want to know if they make it or not so you continue to read the 520 pages to discover that in most cases there is no ending.  This leaves you wanting more but makes one reflect on living in Los Angeles, does this city have more to offer?  I felt that the storylines did not go deep enough but it gave a “vision of the city; high and low, from Hollywood to the Valley to east L.A (Ulin).”  The characters all had their struggles, and their struggles somehow brought them together even though they never meet; although, their destinies are the same, Los Angeles.




Frey has accomplished to write the novel about Los Angeles that no one else has.  “It’s a portrait of a city into which so many millions have projected so many dreams (Frey).”  and  fascinates its readers with intriguing characters, emotional situations  with the added mishmash of facts, makes the characters real.  Los Angeles is where they chose to be, for better or for worse.



Works Cited


“James Frey Biography.” Bio. True Story. A&E Television Networks, 2012. Web. 9 April 2012.


Ulin, David L. Rev. of Bright Shiny Morning, by James Frey. Los Angeles review (2008). Web.


Frey, James. Bright Shiny Morning. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.Print.


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