April 11, 2012

The real citizens of Los Angeles

by capreviewroom

James Frey’s ability to collaborate fact, fiction, and everything in between to create Bright Shiny Morning is elegant. Throughout this novel, or what some would argue memoir, the reader is suggested facts in between stories such as: “In 1852, the first Chinese immigrant arrives in Los Angeles.”(21) As Frey builds upon Los Angeles as a city, four main stories grow as well. These four stories are all perspective told by Frey about the wonder and disappointment Los Angeles seems to be.

Esperanza a Mexican yet American soil born girl was born just over the border by her mother and father. Her parents wanted to give her a better start to life than they had had; a new beginning for both parents and child alike in America. Esperanza seeks love and wealth her whole life, yet finds know confidence in her own self appearance.

Maddie and Dylan are a young couple trying to escape their past. They both come from broken homes and they both need to get away. From being small town folk to moving to a big city, their lives are being turned upside down and inside out. “They sleep on the mattress in the back of the truck. In order to save money they eat popcorn and saltines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”(36) It’s also a new beginning, and to make life even more confusing…what’s that? its positive.

Skip to Old Man Joe. He is a homeless man who sure loves his Chablis. His constant two questions are “how much money will I get from the tourists?” and “when will I start drinking?”(22). We see how a man, who is arguably in the worst of positions out of all of the characters of this memoir, find inner peace through simple things. Not to mention he proves himself a model citizen when a moral dilemma find him on top.

Amberton Parker is a famous movie star who in the public’s eye has it all. Appearing the most successful doesn’t always mean it. Amberton is a “public heterosexual, private homosexual.” (27) That doesn’t deter him as a man, but the fact that he can’t be who he truly is does.

Throughout this novel Frey gives us an almost eerie look at the real lives of Los Angeles people. No fake Hollywood B.S! This is real Los Angeles, this is real life.

 

Quin B

April 11, 2012

The Puzzle

by capreviewroom

“In the Skin of a Lion” is a captivating novel written by Michael Ondaatje, published in 1987. It demonstrates the lives of the immigrants whose contribution to building Toronto never became part of the city’s official history. One of the amazing aspects of the novel is its informativeness due to the facts which depicts the primitive Canada and the city of Toronto in 1940s. Considering the artistic aspects, there are traces of cubism throughout the novel, the story is like a web connecting the characters and their lives, in addition to providing objective evidences which are notable behind their reactions in different situations. The novel is perfectly planned and organized that as you read, certain incidents,character’s attitudes, actions and relationships, memorable lines and even the gaps and silences will raise significant issues and key ideas that leave a lasting impression.The most important reason of the novel’s captivation is the numerous application of flashbacks and foreshadowing which are like pieces of puzzle that urges the reader to continue reading in order to complete the riddle. Moreover, it also points out evident of capitalism, class, the immigrant situations, political views, and social problems. Throughout the novel there are abundant examples of the gruesome acts of capitalism. Specially for those who experienced immigration, this novel would be interesting because of detailed description of immigrants feelings, their struggle to communicate and adapt to a completely different environment. In conclusion, it is a noble novel for those looking for books that you cannot put down.

Kamelia

April 11, 2012

5 Character’s View on Los Angeles

by capreviewroom

James Frey is the American author who wrote the novel Bright Shiny Morning. The novel draws attention to the many people that travels to Los Angeles in search of either fame or a better life. There are many short stories in the novel and while concentrating on four main storylines that does not come into contact with each other at all, Frey also gives the reader a taste of L.A through its historical facts and geography. Some may argue that these facts may have nothing to do with the story lines, but I believe it is a way for the author to make the reader yearn for more of the main plots.

The stereotypical characters that Frey has created let the reader stand easily in their position of events making the stories easy to relate to. Dylan and Maddie are a teenager couple that runs away in order to avoid the same future as their abusive alcoholic parents. The story of Esperanza is a smart Mexican- American girl that let the insecurity of her body damage the path to her bright future and how she tries to fix that path. The daily events of an odd homeless man Old Man Joe who gives advice to other homeless people and is happy with his life leads to a turn when he meets a young girl. Amberton lives in the American dream faces difficulties as he is a private homosexual in the public eyes in order to be successful in his career.

Even though the pages might be full of text and is a long novel, it is easy to follow and read. With different stories to keep each other fresh and exciting, I had a hard time putting the book down as I began to read each time. It is also very easy to read because the characters are easy to relate to. After leisurely reading Bright Shiny Morning my view of Los Angeles has changed and I would definitely suggest this novel to other readers who enjoy an easy and interesting novel.

Wayne

April 11, 2012

How to FIx Our Broken Dreams?

by capreviewroom

Filling blanks of Los Angeles

Sun rises and falls day by day in each city, but the book, “Bright Shiny Morning”, makes our eyes focus on the city called Los Angeles, the city of anger. Frey splits tons of short stories into plenty of micro short stories which happened in L.A. It makes you feel that you are doing a puzzle game when you are reading the book. After you finish reading, a map of LA and America dream will be right in your mind. There are four main characters’ stories which take most part of the book. Dylan, Maddie, Old Man Joe, Esperanza and Amberton.

Dylan and Maddie’s story starts the book. A quite typical start of love story: a young boy picks a girl out from an evil cage and starts a new life; however, the “evil cage” is girl’s home and the “lord” is girl’s mom this time. They leave the town they live and face unknown fortune. The thing they have is love. I love this story because Dylan and Maddie are nineteen which was the age I just passed. Every teenager will have their terrible two. I can understand the elopement they did. Actually, they did the move which most people can’t take a step. Furthermore, the sentence “We’re gonna be fine.”(Frey, p51), is that a self consolation or a hope to meet a new unknown morning? This is a question for every people since the sentence we will say when life get tougher. Dylan died; he left a widow, an unborn baby, more pains. “He loved you, he loved you.”(p509) Their love impressed, sadden me.

The other main characters, who are Old Man Joe, Amberton, Ezprenanza and her parents, also have their own splendid stories in the book. But they are not my second best favourite narrative, Barry is. Barry has a dream when he is eleven, “he wanted to bring joy and fun to the middle class at affordable prices” (p11). He stays his dream and works hard for it. His dream once comes true, and then falls, like a comet, like a burned match. I like him because he go through his dream and make it real no matter how many difficulties there are in the future. Even during the America’s Great Depression, he didn’t sell his land. His vivid inner struggle ask every reader: what I will do in this situation? Knuckle under to the reality? Or stay my dream? Barry stayed, “his heart says no” (p14).

The reason why Dylan, Maddie and Barry are my favourite characters in the book is that I deeply believe if there are any things that can not be sold; those will be love and dream.

“Bright Shiny Morning” is a great novel. I will list it as one of my favourite fictional stories. It makes reader enthusiastic to read through it, even though it has 500 more pages and enjoy the course.

-Edward Tang

April 11, 2012

Toronto Back in Time- Danielle Lawson

by capreviewroom

In the Skin of a Lion effectively takes the reader back in time to the city of Toronto in the 1920s and 30s.  Published in 1987, Michael Ondaatje brilliantly uses imagery to explore the subjects of social status and isolationism.  However Ondaatje’s use of imagery often overshadows the novel’s plot.  Divided into Book One, Two and Three, Ondaatje re-introduces characters Patrick Lewis, Hana and Caraggio to develop a fictional novel while re-telling the history of the construction of Toronto. 

Although Ondaatjes novel is fiction, “certain liberties have been taken with some dates and locales” as, stated in the opening pages.  In the Skin of a Lion brings to life the history of Toronto by using credible sources such as the Multicultural History of Ontario and the Ontario Arts Council whom he thanks on the acknowledgment page.  Ondaatje’s use of imagery and historical references brings to life the lives of Toronto’s working class immigrants in the 20s and 30s.

From beginning to end, Ondaatje’s use of imagery focuses on the mistreatment of Finnish immigrants in Toronto’s old society.  Ondaatje vividly depicts the harsh restrictions put onto the Finnish working class as character Patrick Lewis states “I am moving like a puppet” (120).  Comparing Patrick to a puppet emphasizes the control Toronto’s laws and upper classmen have upon himself and his colleagues.  Forced to meet in secret, Ondaatje depicts a sense of community between the immigrants as they escape the feeling of alienation in the streets of Toronto.

In the Skin of a Lion selected for the 2002 Canada Reads Competition, provides a vivid history of the construction of Toronto.  As well Ondaatje illustrates the struggle an immigrant in Toronto had to endure while constructing the city.  This work of fiction provides one with credible historic references while exploring Ondaatje’s fictional spin on the development of a new city. 

April 11, 2012

A Not So Bright and Shiny Morning

by capreviewroom

The novel by James Frey, Bright Shiny Morning , shows us a fairly negative few on the city of Los Angeles. Throughout the book we are presented with many stories. Many of these stories are somewhat upsetting and negative, and others aren’t stories at all, just facts about the city and the negative outcomes of peoples lives that have tried to come to Los Angeles, but failed at their dreams. The four main stories we follow through out the book are definately a roller coaster ride to say the least. Old Man Joe is a beach bum that grew up loving Chablis, who tries to fix problems of other people as much as he can. Amberton, who is a movie superstar of Los Angeles, is secretly gay and faces some problems but thinks anything and everything can be fixed with his fame and money. Esperanza, a US born mexican of immigrant parents, finds herself in a tough grind, more than most, especially when she is put to work by a horrid old woman that treats her like dirt. Maddie and Dylan, who are my favorite of the four main stories, come from a small town in Ohio where their parents beat them and treated them poorly,because of this, they left to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams, but like most who go there to follow their dreams, their dreams get crushed.
If you are looking for a book that does not have any chapters, but is split up into many small sections with almost every section leaving you with a cliffhanger, I would strongly suggest reading this book.
In contrast, I would not recommend this book to those of you who have a high and idealistic opinion of Los Angeles and would rather not hear the city being bashed.

Tim Adair

April 11, 2012

Frey Unleashes the Full Volume of Los Angeles in Bright Shiny Morning by Jesse Robinson

by capreviewroom

Using powerful character stereotypes of both the inhabitants and the state itself, James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning idolizes and dissects the growth and differing views of California. Unearthing the gritty truths of Los Angeles in particular, it depicts the prevalent darkness within the world of America’s affluence, poverty, and the dreams that brought its inhabitants within the reach of the city’s clutches. The writer, prior to this breakout novel, was revered, then questioned as the non-fictional mastermind behind A Million Little Pieces, and now is considered by some critics to wield the power over L.A. similarly to the effect that James Joyce was able to deliver Dublin to readers decades ago.

Upon entrance to the novel, or upon our awakening to the first few chapters, if you will, we begin to follow the story of two young lovers; Maddie and Dylan, who escape their lives of constant disappointment and abuse in Ohio, travelling from broken homes to the hopeful shores of California. We meet Amberton Parker, a successful, confident, powerful, masculine action-hero-movie star with a hidden double life; one that involves not only his sexual preference, but his true nature as a spoiled, yet charming man who has always, and most likely, will always get his way. Esperanza next; the Mexican immigrants’ daughter, born on America soil, a bright shining youth with the intelligence and drive to make a name for her family, only to be hindered by her own self confidence concerning her appearance. Then Old Man Joe;  who happens to be younger than he looks, a homeless man with only the “job as Boardwalk Hero,” (257) the use a bathroom outside a taco stand near Venice Beach and the taste of sweet, sweet Chablis as his saving grace. We encounter dozens of named characters, delivered on countless pages of which contain only short excerpts of their lives. Reducing people to statistics allows Frey to bring to light the gruesome facts of L.A.’s lost dreams and the believable stories of those who have made it, and made it big in Hollywood.

Frey peppers Bright Shiny Morning’s pages, chapter after chapter with the facts of L.A. that bring this novel back to earth, bring L.A. down from its pedestal enshrouded in glitz and perfection. Informational clips whiz by about the usage of L.A.’s highways, the building of separate townships such as Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the incorporation of a police force, and the eventual growth of organized crime. Evidence of the intention of suffering of the inhabitants who buy and sell firearms are intertwined with the hopes and well-meaning souls who come to make a life there. By offering all aspects of the personality of the city to us, Frey all but begs readers to dig deeper, to read past the initial stereotypes suggested within the characters presented to us. I strongly believe that the introduction to not only the chorus of voices heard, but the screaming of the undeniable facts of the growth of the city itself cries with a naturalistic volume. With the sum of the available noise within Bright Shiny Morning, Frey has successfully brought Los Angeles to life as a living, breathing, audible character in this book.

April 11, 2012

Frey Builds Up the City Of Dreams While Simultaneously Knocking It Down

by capreviewroom

The creation and building of the city of dreams, L.A., stages the perfect background for James Frey’s “Bright Shiny Morning,” which takes the reader through several characters stories of hope, and new beginnings which are intertwined inescapably with the darkness and hard times life can throw at us all. The reader is introduced to four main stories connected only through theme and setting. They include: Dylan and Maddie, a young couple who turn to L.A. to escape their abuse ridden lives in a small town in Ohio; Esperanza, a pretty, intelligent girl whose parents did everything they could to have her born on American soil in an attempt to better all of their lives; Old Man Joe, a very positive poverty stricken man who has spent his life in love with cheap wine, and finally, Amberton, a successful movie star with the perfect house, career, wife, and children whose life is spent shielding his sexual identity from the public.

While these four stories have no real story connection to each other, they all show L.A. in different manners, painting a tragic but typical portrayal of L.A. showing the true darkness the city can bring. This different views come from the immigrants trying for a better life, an A-list movie star with a huge secret, the runaway teenagers chasing a dream, and the homeless man waiting for his chance to be the hero. All are characters somewhat tired as they have all been seemingly done, seen, and heard before, but Frey does a nice job of giving each character very specific details leaving them hard to forget, such as Esperanza’s abnormally large thighs, or Old Man Joe’s love for Chablis. He also splashes the novel with other very minor character stories and facts about the development of Los Angeles, which at times read as a bit of a distraction, but does help in putting the setting into context. This combination allows Frey to not only build up L.A. as the city of dreams, but also knock it down as it’s dark secrets emerge.

The only other connection between the four stories is the theme of hope that they all bring while yearning for the ‘American dream.’ While achieving ones dreams is something everyone hopes for it seems like L.A. has been designated as some sort of flagship for making these dreams a reality, a reality that Frey is trying to illustrate is a far less fantastic one than is often dreamt of. I believe this is seen best in Amberton’s character, as he is the epitome of perfection and success and has achieved the ultimate dream, yet he has done it by portraying a character to the world that is far from his true self. With these four main stories it is evident Frey is trying to drive across a message that things are not always as they seem and confidence in one’s own self and remaining positive through the negatives that life throw’s at us helps us to achieve our goals and make life what we want it to be rather than what the American dream says we should strive for. In the end, “Bright Shiny Morning” provides for an intriguing and captivating read that would appeal to many audiences, and is very well worth the time.

Ali G.

April 11, 2012

Londoners: A mental dissection

by capreviewroom

Virginia Woolf explores the internal emotion verses external dialogue in her book “Mrs. Dalloway”.  The internal power of decision making and emotional happenings sheds a great light on this novel. Clarissa Dalloway, a woman married to a man who is a member of parliament, decides to go for a walk and buy some flowers as she is prepping to host a party for her husband’s friends. During her walk, she met up with Peter Walsh, a man who she once declined engagement.  She hears of his time in India where he had left to for 5 years after her rejection. Peter is an emotional man. He takes into consideration his success but also the opinion which the people of London seem to have of him. He find himself strongly in love with a woman from India, but unfortunately for Peter she is married. As this is all happening we shift to another part of town in a park where Septimus Smith is in the park. Septimus is a young war veteran who was shell shocked from his duty in World War 1. He has issues with his own internal struggle, while having to deal with the external frustrations of misunderstood opinions. Septimus seeks care and help with his situation. Woolf intermixes all of these characters into daily events. Woolf allows us not just to see a single character as a basic introductory character, but as an emotional complex being. Woolf portrays a true scenario of how every person has their own story and takes her writing to great lengths of personality through language to do so. The reader will see through this novel an amazing portrayal of London and the people within it. The true perception of how life can be a bright positive experience through past and present, then present to us a vivid depiction of how that can be simply a temporary numbing to the pain of life. Woolf’s novel will give the reader a strong sense of reality through engaging stories of multiple existences.

 

Quin B

April 11, 2012

A different spotlight on Vancouver

by capreviewroom

By: Nicholas Chiu

Nancy Lee the Canadian author who wrote the novel “Dead Girls”. The novel consists of eight short stories based in the Vancouver area in British Columbia. The eight short stories display everyday occurrences in the Vancouver area which is poverty, prostitution and drugs  but they get over looked and are not taken seriously. Dead girls and the eight short stories within the novel portray different women who cope and struggle with their situations and capture the different emotions and feelings portrayed making the story enticing and stirs up a discussion on the issues raised.

Throughout the novel we have eight short stories and all eight short stories showcase different problems and situations with the different characters mentioned. In every short story murder is linked to each one as police try to find the serial killer on the loose while the women and men in each short story stumble through love, life and the relationships trying to find something deeper than the love they have but can’t find the answer to it.

The novel starts off with the short story “Associated Press” a story about a woman who is in a relationship with a man but is truly in love with another man. The beginning of “Associated Press” the story is being told in a second person narrative in which the protagonist is referred to by use of personal pronouns or any other forms of addressing.  Throughout the story there is a reference to “that boy” and “this boy” which will force you to pay more attention to the story and follow what the woman thinks and does. With this type of narration it will provoke you to become more involved with the story being told as it is being told in second person narration and also it will help you follow the events and interactions this woman goes through in the story.

Vancouver being the city that “Dead Girls” has as its primary location portrays Vancouver as a totally different city from what it really is. If you live in Vancouver you would of never thought or even guessed that the areas you pass by that are mentioned in the book have such significant in the book.  The reality of drug abuse, violence, prostitution and poverty are magnified in “Dead Girls” when usually they are not mentioned in the news or given the attention that other issues bring out. Recommended for the avid reader who enjoys realism and short stories about women, emotion and struggles.