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.