Bright Shiny Morning

Bright Shiny Morning

4.1 135
by James Frey

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One of the most celebrated and controversial authors in America delivers his first novel—a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilarating, and utterly original.

Dozens of characters pass across the reader's sight lines—some never to be seen again—but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA's lost souls and captures

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One of the most celebrated and controversial authors in America delivers his first novel—a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilarating, and utterly original.

Dozens of characters pass across the reader's sight lines—some never to be seen again—but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA's lost souls and captures the dramatic narrative of their lives: a bright, ambitious young Mexican-American woman who allows her future to be undone by a moment of searing humiliation; a supremely narcissistic action-movie star whose passion for the unattainable object of his affection nearly destroys him; a couple, both nineteen years old, who flee their suffocating hometown and struggle to survive on the fringes of the great city; and an aging Venice Beach alcoholic whose life is turned upside down when a meth-addled teenage girl shows up half-dead outside the restroom he calls home.

Throughout this strikingly powerful novel there is the relentless drumbeat of the millions of other stories that, taken as a whole, describe a city, a culture, and an age. A dazzling tour de force, Bright Shiny Morning illuminates the joys, horrors, and unexpected fortunes of life and death in Los Angeles.

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Editorial Reviews

Steven Moore
[Frey's] ambition may have been to write the definitive novel of L.A., to do for that city what Joyce did for Dublin, Dos Passos did for Manhattan or Durrell did for Alexandria. If so, he may have succeeded; Joyce boasted that if Dublin were to disappear, it could be reconstructed from his Ulysses, and Frey could make the same claim for Bright Shiny Morning…[it] reads quickly, has great dialogue and some expertly paced dramatic moments, teaches you more about L.A. than you ever knew, and makes the case (posited by an artist near the end) that Los Angeles is the new New York, on its way to becoming the cultural capital of the world. Or it could all be a stinging satire of the most violent, corrupt, polluted, pretentious, money-mad place in America. Works either way.
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what. He became a furiously good storyteller this time.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

The controversial Frey offers his first novel, a collection of stories about various individuals in Los Angeles. With the sheer quantity and quality of characters that pop up in this tale, Ben Foster offers a truly a magnificent performance. Whether portraying a teenage couple on the run, a beach-going alcoholic who lives in a restroom, or a movie star who just can't seem to get everything he wants, the 27-year-old Foster is superb. His voice doesn't call attention to itself but his delivery is stellar and his interpretations are all realistic and never overplayed. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Apr. 14). (June)

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Bright Shiny Morning LP

Chapter One

On September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four men, women and children who call themselves the Pobladores establish a settlement on land that is near the center of contemporary Los Angeles. They name the settlement El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula. Two-thirds of the settlers are either freed or escaped African slaves, or the direct descendants of freed or escaped African slaves. Most of the rest are Native American. Three are Mexican. One is European.

They can see the glow a hundred miles away it's night and they're on an empty desert highway. They've been driving for two days. They grew up in a small town in Ohio they have known each other their entire lives, they have always been together in some way, even when they were too young to know what it was or what it meant, they were together. They're nineteen now. They left when he came to pick her up for the movies, they went to the movies every Friday night. She liked romantic comedies and he liked action films, sometimes they saw cartoons. They started the weekly outing when they were fourteen.

Screaming, he could hear her screaming as he pulled into the driveway. He ran into the house her mother was dragging her along the floor by her hair. Clumps of it were missing. There were scratches on her face. There were bruises on her neck. He pulled her away and when her mother tried to stop him he hit her mother, she tried again he hit her mother harder. Mother stopped trying.

He picked her up and carried her to his truck, a reliable old American pickup with a mattress in the back and a camper shell over the bed.He set her in the passenger seat carefully set her and he covered her with his jacket. She was sobbing bleeding it wasn't the first time it would be the last. He got into the driver's seat, started the engine, pulled out as he pulled out Mother came to the door with a hammer and watched them drive away, didn't move, didn't say a word, just stood in the door holding a hammer, her daughter's blood beneath her fingernails, her daughter's hair still caught in her clothes and hands.

They lived in a small town in an eastern state it was nowhere anywhere everywhere, a small American town full of alcohol, abuse and religion. He worked in an auto-body shop and she worked as a clerk at a gas station and they were going to get married and buy a house and try to be better people than their parents. They had dreams but they called them dreams because they were unrelated to reality, they were a distant unknown, an impossibility, they would never come true.

He went back to his parents' house they were in a bar down the street. He locked the doors of the truck and kissed her and told her she would be fine and he walked into the house. He went to the bathroom and got aspirin and Band-Aids, he went into his room and pulled a video game case from out of the drawer. The case held every cent he had $2,100 he had saved for their wedding. He took it out and put it in his pocket he grabbed some clothes and he walked out. He got in the truck she had stopped crying. She looked at him and she spoke.

What are we doing?

We're leaving.

Where we going?


We can't just up and go to California.

Yes, we can.

We can't just walk away from our lives.

We don't have lives here. We're just stuck. We'll end up like everyone else, drunk and mean and miserable.

What'll we do?

Figure it out.

We're just gonna leave and go to California and figure it out?

Yeah, that's what we're gonna do.

She laughed, wiped away her tears.

This is crazy.

Staying's crazy. Leaving's smart. I don't want to waste our life.



She smiled.

He pulled out turned west and started driving towards the glow it was thousands of miles away, he started driving towards the glow.

Bright Shiny Morning LP. Copyright © by James Frey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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