Bright Shiny Morning: The ironic American Dream

by capreviewroom

Lights, camera, action! Hollywood, the perfect place with stars and people, a way to push aside the past and look to the future, a way to seek opportunity, a way to a new world and the American dream. James Frey, a very talented writer from New York, takes those ideals of associated with L.A and begins the process of picking It apart and rip it to shreds. It is very evident that he does not agree with what people have to say about L.A; Frey’s novel, Bright Shiny Morning, does a very good job in supporting this view.

Frey’s use of characters, the elements of the city, and the twisted use of his plot makes the reading more of an emotional rollercoaster ride with lots of statistics. Aside from the many facts (many historical or negative) about L.A the novel follows 4 main stories. We follow the lives of Esperenza, Old Man Joe, Dylan and Maddie, and Amberton. Each of these characters are drastically different from each other and do we in representing a different aspect of L.A. Esperenza shows the hard ship of the immigrants of L.A. Old Man Joe shows life in L.A from the eyes of a homeless achoholic. Dylan and Maddie, a young couple, shows use the complicated issues that befall young Americans who run to L.A for a better future. Lastly we see life from the superstar, Amberton, who also happens to be a closet homosexual. Each of these stories present an extreme view of L.A either on the really good side or the really bad side; however, the character, though very drastic and different, are not the only elements that show extreme sides of L.A.

The plot elements themselves play a major role in creating irony as well. The perceived idea of the American dream is constant throughout each story. Esperenza is the daughter of an immigrant, works hard, gets into collage (after some issues in her life) and meets the man of her dreams, ultimately having the American dream; Esperenza’s story sounds like a remake of Cinderella. Old Man Joe tries to save a girl, who is addicted to crystal meth, from her drug dealers, he raises a band of noble homeless and they do battle to try to save her. Frey has enlightened us with Old Man Joe’s story and we now know that prince charming can come in all shapes and sizes. Amberton plays a great spoiled and evil queen who abuses power, as a superstar. Lastly, who could forget Dylan and Maddie, the young couple who ran from an abusive home to L.A, finding themselves living a somewhat perfectly with many friends who help them, until a band of bad people take Dylan away from Maddie, never to return. Frey had done a wonderful job poking fun at the American dream and comparing it to the fairy tales of Disney Land (also in California). On top of these 4 wonderful stories, the reader will be showered with many statistics and facts about beautiful L.A and lots of historical and fun facts. Bright Shiny Morning, is a great book with many elements that will make it a very enlightening emotional rollercoaster ride.

– Howard So

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