Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey is novel which focuses on four unrelated stories based in and around Los Angeles. With segue’s that delve into other minor characters, and facts about the city of Los Angeles itself.
The four main storylines follow a variety of characters; Amberton Parker, a famous and wealthy celebrity who lives his life hiding a “dangerous” secret; a young couple, Dylan and Maddie, who run away from home and try to find a better life in L.A.; a Mexican-American named Esperanza working as a maid to raise funds for university; and a homeless man named Old Man Joe who lives and lays on Venice Beach searching for answers.
These four storylines, while somewhat cliched, are what make this novel bearable, and possibly enjoyable to read. Yet interspersed between the alternating storylines are tangents to “historical” facts about the city of Los Angeles, and while the facts may be interesting, Frey presents them in such a dry and forced way that these tangents take away from the enjoyment of the main storyline, forcing me to either skip the tangents, or attempt to bear though such unrelated information.
The segue from the main storylines feel as though Frey simply wrote what every popped into his head and interested him while trying to flesh out the plot of his stories. Perhaps that was what he intended, or perhaps they are there to add unneeded background information for the stories.
I would recommend Bright Shiny Morning if you want an easy to read story, that allows for reading in short five to ten minute periods. But if you’re looking for something with a unique and engaging plot, you might want to pass on Frey’s third foray into published literature.
— Justin Chapdelaine