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Bright Shiny Morning

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Overview

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 ...

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Bright Shiny Morning

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Overview

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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061575525
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/13/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 13 1/2 Hours, 11 CDs
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

James Frey

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.

An award winning actor, Ben Foster can be seen in the films Birds of America, 3:10 to Yuma, and X-Men 3: The Last Stand among many others. He shared the SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast for his work on the acclaimed HBO drama Six Feet Under, and garnered a Daytime Emmy for his lead performance in Showtime's Bang Bang You're Dead.

Biography

James Frey in his own words:

"I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent most of my childhood in Ohio and Michigan, and I have also lived in Boston, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, Sao Paulo Brazil, London, Paris, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I graduated from high school in 1988 and received further education at Denison University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1993, I was sent to the Hazelden Foundation for the treatment of cocaine addiction and alcoholism. I moved to Chicago in 1994, where I worked variety of jobs, including doorman, stockboy, and member of a janitorial crew. In 1996, I moved to Los Angeles where I worked as a screenwriter, director and producer. In 2000, I took second mortgage on my house, and spent a year writing A Million Little Pieces. It was published by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in May of 2003 and became a New York Times bestseller, a #1 national bestseller, and an international bestseller. In 2004, I wrote My Friend Leonard, which is a sequel to A Million Little Pieces. In June of 2005, Riverhead Books published My Friend Leonard, which also became a New York Times and international bestseller. I live in New York with my wife, daughter, and two dogs."

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Good To Know

A few fun and fascinating facts from our interview with Frey:

"I've cut my own hair since I was 18, which is probably a bad thing."

"I once worked as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny at a department store."

"I have about 15 tattoos."

"I love baseball, boxing, football, and playing with my daughter."

"I read for a couple hours a day. I surf. I love looking at art, spend tons of time in galleries."

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Read an Excerpt

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?

California.

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.

Our?

Yeah.

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 134 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(71)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 135 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 12, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Style and substance

    This was a great book. I was expecting great things because I had enjoyed Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard (no matter what Oprah had to say!). This book had an original style of story telling. The characters were engaging. A wonderful history lesson of California, and more specifically Los Angeles is interspersed (makes you want to avoid any thought of visiting the city!), and all is presented in a very candid way. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little different, who wants a great story, a great lesson, and a dose of reality.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2010

    Nothing short of amazing

    Riveting, and powerful. Couldnt put it down from the moment that I picked it up. Paints a glamourously dark picture of hollywood and where most of those who follow the lure of its lights end up. Reccommend it to everyone. The characters are amazing, the style is powerful. There is someone for everyone in this book. Brought tears to my eyes on several occasions... A MUST READ!!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Another winner in my eyes

    I read both of James Frey's books before this. I loved them and I loved this one. He is a great writer. He keeps you interested and wanting more. I couldn't put it down. I read the book rather then study for my midterm. That's how good it was. Highly recommend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    I don't care about the controversy with his first book, James Fr

    I don't care about the controversy with his first book, James Frey is a genius writer and I couldn't put this book down.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Amazing

    Sometimes the random facts are a bit much, but this book is definitely one of the best reads you could ask for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2011

    Characters were great

    My first exposure to James Frey was his hit, Million Little Pieces, which was on Oprah's book club. I expected this book to be similar to MLP, however I found it more distracting, than interesting, to read. The character development in this is stellar, and I was fast forwarding through the pages that consisted of one paragraph, about the history of southern CA. I could have done without that part of the story, and read more of the different stories of the heartbreaking characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2010

    California Captured!

    This book shines from the onset! The writing style is engaging and the characters are fascinatingly regular. Added to all the terrific facts about the state of California, the plot is crisply readable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger!

    James Frey is a unique writer and although his trip in the limelight was ugly, he continues to write and write well. His style of writing in A Million Pieces was so out of the ordinary and even frustrating for some, it is what keeps me coming back. In this book, we are introduced to many very different characters along the way, each with so much life happening, you cannot help but be intrigued in finding out more. Frey also gives us a good deal of history of California and the undertone throughout the book feels like the I-5 that travels through the belly of it. The characters alone give multiple readers a lot to talk about and although this easily could fall into a sequel or series, I have a feeling Frey will leave it right where it ends. I look forward to his next novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A waste of my money, time, and attention.

    So many history books worthy of reading and collecting. I didnt need a history lesson, I read to escape, I read to live in someone else's shoes for a moment in time. I didn't enjoy the reality, we are exposed to this reality in the flesh. I would NOT recommend this book!! I found nothing about this book captivating!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An masterful portrait of L.A.

    I loved this book and could barely put it down. What I liked most is that this guy is a great writer/story-teller. His characters, introduced to the reader through a set of interwoven, unconnected, mini-short stories, suck you into their lives. I loved the fact that Frey focuses on and gives humanity to people on the fringes of society -- be they the superficial, mega-wealthy or those living on the street. The intermissions with "L.A. facts" between story segments enriched the drama. Sometimes these fact lists got a bit lengthy, but that was my biggest criticism of the novel. The fact that the superstar was hiding a gay lifestyle was a bit cliche, but, nonetheless poignant in its portrayal of narcissim.

    Somehow, I missed the Oprah drama around Frey's "A Million Little Pieces', so I loved reading about it in the paperback version that included a little P.S. section. As Frey notes, we are suckers for a little scandal.

    All in all, this is a great read, with characters that reminded me of Raymond Carver's, and enough suspense to keep you coming back for more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fans who relish a sharp sardonic saga will want to read Mr. Frey's lampooning of Los Angeles, a city with an identity crisis

    They come by foot, by car, by bus or plane to Los Angeles. They are looking to start anew, looking to vanish, or just looking. They arrive from all walks of life, from all religions, and from all races. Los Angeles is a magnet as the twenty-first century melting pot city.

    Amberton Parker has become a Hollywood legend living the American dream with plenty of money, a lovely wife and three children who adore him but he also has a risky side in regards to his sexual preference. Two teenagers Dylan and Maddie fled abusive households hoping to make it on love. Espernaza pays for her college education by working as a maid for a rich b**ch. Homeless alcoholic Old Joe skips asking passersby for loose change when he becomes a Good Samaritan trying to help a young addict.

    BRIGHT SHINY MORNING feels like three novellas of life in Los Angeles that cross over each other yet somehow never quite interweave into a cohesive novel sort of as if the expressways that connect the metropolis never touch one another. Each tale is well written with real characters somewhat hyperbolized to portray aspects of a city that James Frey satirically describes as craving to become the twenty-first century number one international metropolis (in spite of NFL meaning not for Los Angeles). Fans who relish a sharp sardonic saga will want to read Mr. Frey's lampooning of Los Angeles, a city with an identity crisis.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Catching and Refreshing.

    Love this book. I recommend this book to anybody who likes/reads Bret Easton Ellis or Chuck Palahniuk. It was suprising how Bright Shiny Morning was popular at all because of the "controversial", A Million Little Pieces. It was rumored that AMAZING Oprah calls however many years later to apologize to Frey about HER outburst on HER show over his book, it's funny how she apologizes just after Bright Shiny Morning came out and had gotten good reviews.
    Nothing in the book can be considered accurate or true, this being stated at the beginning of the book. So I'm not sure that the history about Los Angeles is even true, he could have slightly made some of it up.
    Love the characters. Love the Ending.
    All around great book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2008

    California and Hollywood history

    Bright Shiny Morning is a history of the United States mainly focusing on California and Hollywood beginnings to present day. We learn about its founders and the people who get caught up in its hype. There are four main stories within the one story where the history intertwines. A man dreams are crushed and he decides to become a homeless drunk with a heart. When one of his friends is murdered, he rethinks his life. A beautiful young American Mexican girl obsesses about her thighs. A young couple runs from their abusive homes and starts a new life. A homosexual male movie star blackmails men to have sex with him.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    One of my all-time favorite books!! A love letter to LA, that makes me long to be a oart of that city again!!!!!!

    A must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Arielle

    Ok thats good

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Smoke to dani

    Search mgmt flash deliureum its one of the songs we are going to play.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Los

    He sits down and he looks around

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Dani

    *walks in wearing a red and black striped tshirt, grey jeans, and brown combat boots* Hey guys.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012

    Great read

    I loved this book. Couldn't put it down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Amazing!

    This is one of those great books where when you are finished you feel like you lost your best friend! His style of writing is so real and gritty. I keep longing for another book to come out from Frey.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 135 Customer Reviews

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