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Bright Shiny Morning

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  11,481 Ratings  ·  1,381 Reviews
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 li
Hardcover, 501 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Harper (first published May 12th 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 20, 2008 Jen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like Million Little Pieces
I loved this. For so many reasons. One of course is James Frey's style of writing. I can't explain why I love the way he writes. I can see how it would get on so many people's nerves. Then I think, anyone can do this..use weird commas or no commas, and then I see it done poorly and realize that it really is a talent.

I loved the first line of the book..before the actual book starts "Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable." Way to go James--you tell them! Then the further I
Feb 04, 2009 Jamieson rated it it was amazing
Everyone remembers the controversy surrounding A Million Little Pieces, James Frey’s first book. Published as a memoir, it was later revealed that much of the book was fabricated to protect those Frey wrote about.

In the end, however, the controversy doesn’t matter. Frey’s books A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard did what all good books should do: they evoked emotion, touched long forgotten places inside of us and inspired people to live better lives.

So despite the controversy, I was e
Jun 10, 2008 Lewis rated it it was amazing
I am so busy that sometimes I curl up in a fetal ball in my mind. The fact that I read this 500 page book is a testimony to how well it is written.
Now everyone who knows me knows how I feel about the self-indulgence of memoir. Nevertheless, I always found Oprah's treatment of Mr. Frey distasteful and stupid. Do we really believe authors such as Augusten Burroughs are telling the absolute truth about their lives? No. But they don't get publicly flayed....although in the case of Mr. Burroughs I w
May 18, 2008 brian rated it it was ok
alright, well, i just read the first 225 pgs and i'm not gonna continue. it's not that it's soooo terrible. it's not. his stylized prose works more often than not and he can definitely set a tone. if i didn't have a stack of books on my desk that i've been dying to read, i'd probably finish... but, no. the minutes tick by and monsieur reaper hides behind every corner.

it's not that just'bout everything in the book (the individual pieces and the sum of their parts) is cliche, cliche, cliche... cl
Steven  Godin
Jan 11, 2016 Steven Godin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, modern, american
Los Angeles, The City of Angels, the american dream for some, a living hell for others, either way they share the same blue sky, it's where they call home, and home is a sprawling mass of wealth, poverty, tourists, talent agencies, paparazzi, sex scandals, traffic jams, billboard signs, beeping horns, police sirens, palm lined beaches, street-gangs, mini-malls, car lots, discount stores, designer stores, ammunition stores, movie stars, porn stars, pawn shops, shopping sprees, killing sprees, boo ...more
B the BookAddict
Dec 11, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it did not like it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR, not a good choice
Shelves: did-not-like

This is a Comment not a Review. To review a book fairly, I believe you must read a book in it's entirety – I read only 185 pages and decided not to continue.

I did not like the punctuated sense of this novel: that is, the absence of punctuation, random capitals inserted into sentences and don't get me started on the way sentences ran on into each other. It's probably fair to say I spent far too much time dissecting and trying to follow this weird type of prose – and I use the term 'prose' very lo
Oct 30, 2012 Vonia rated it it was amazing
This is possibly the best book I have read all year. Following The Million Little Lies, I had lost my faith in Frey as a writer... Cliche, I realize... but it's true. Now, I believe that if that is what was required for him to whip up this masterpiece, so be it. That is exactly what this is. A masterpiece. Although I do not agree with his "this is my style because I am cool & I do not give a fuck about grammar"... I have to say it works. Although it requires me to concentrate in ways I am no ...more
Feb 15, 2013 Eddie rated it really liked it
A 4.5 rating for me.

The only thing I knew about James Frey was what almost everybody who is an avid reader knows, that his memoir was, well, a novel. I'm sure there was some truth to that memoir, and if anyone really believes memoirs to be fully factual, just get far away from me. What am I talking about? Most of my inner circle of acquaintances and friends probably have no idea what a memoir even is. I'm not joking.

So with all that said, I was truly reluctant to read this book with all the bad
May 28, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
I am NOT just giving this book 5 stars to get back at the spiteful reviewers on Amazon (who didn't even read the book!) The integrity they lack- giving a book you haven't read 1 star. In my mind, it goes to show how many people think what Oprah thinks just because she thinks it. For more background on my review, I read "A Million Little Pieces" BEFORE it was revealed that it was not completely factual. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and although I didn't base my own rehabilitation solely on his writin ...more
Apr 02, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
This book reads like a screenplay which makes sense because James Frey was actually a screenwriter before A Million Little Pieces. The book is as if someone asked James Frey to write a book to the future to sum up all of LA. This broadness is at once intriguing and completely dull. It is also clearly influenced by Crash. There are a couple interesting story lines but the incessant introduction of characters that are sometimes not even named and then never go anywhere is frustrating. It is almost ...more
Jun 23, 2009 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a very frustrating book. Just as I would start to get into one of the stories, it would switch to some random piece of crap interjected in an attempt to tie it all together (or at least I'm assuming that's what their purpose is). Note to author: listing tidbits of information that go on forever is not an effective means of writing. It is boring and pointless at best, but more often it was distracting and irritating. I would have rather had one or two of the stories expanded into full le ...more
Jun 24, 2008 Shea rated it it was ok
A book with so much potential that realized very little of it. Bright Shiny Morning follows about 5 major characters, and another 20(ish) minor characters, in and around the Los Angeles area. Some of these characters have recently moved to L.A. and some have lived in L.A. their entire lives. All are connected by the city itself and Frey's notion that it is really the "city of broken dream". For example, Esperanza, a Mexican-American whose parents moved to the U.S. in order to provide a better li ...more
Melanie Moat
May 31, 2015 Melanie Moat rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I had never read a book until Bright Shiny Morning where, immediately after finishing, said to myself, "Well, that could've been at least 200 pages shorter."
May 17, 2008 Betsy rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2008 Bree rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2008, favorites
Only got halfway through and had to return it - so I've requested it again to finish it! So far, this is one of my favorite books of 2008!

Update: Yep, this is definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year. I was completely engrossed in this one, I just loved everything about it. It starts out with random stories about people who are in LA, moving to LA - some of them he wraps up so you know they're not going to be recurring characters, and others he just lets the subject drop and goes
Mar 27, 2009 Crystal rated it it was ok
I picked this book up because I loved A Million Little Pieces, regardless of all the controversy that surrounded it (I read it after it was discovered that much of it was false).

With that being said, I do love Frey's writing style- the stream of consciousness, lack of proper punctuation, the continuous flow of words and thoughts meshing together.

The problem is, only about half of the book is like that. The rest is rather odd- the book centers around the settling and "coming to be" of the city
Anastasia Alén
Mar 12, 2016 Anastasia Alén rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Day after day I see them. I walk and I hear them. I walk and I feel them. I walk in the Land of Angels, I walk in the Land of Dreams.

What a book! At first it seemed a bit messy, you get paragraphs of one or two characters and then there are new characters and so it continues. However, in the middle of the book I was just dying to know how does their story continue, where do they end up.

It's a novel about LA, it's beautiful! All the little facts about LA's history, statistics about the city wer
May 21, 2008 Miriam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Janet Maslin, who I generally mock, tricked me into thinking that this was going to be brilliant. But, then, halfway through, I remembered that Janet Maslin is kind of a dingbat most of the time. And she was wrong about this book. It has its moments. But it is full of stupid filler crap that I just started skipping by the end. If he would just stick with simple storytelling, like he did in A Million Little Pieces, which I know is NOT HIP to like, but I did like it regardless of its truth or untr ...more
May 16, 2008 Rob rated it did not like it
I've only read the first 10 pages or so, and it's terrible. Still, and I want everyone to hear this, I purchased this book just to stick it to Oprah. For this reason alone, I believe my pennies have been well deposited. More later.
Here's the later: Really, I apologize to anyone that I've offended just by having tried to read this work. Yeah, I've read further into this hulkish nightmare. It's a complete disaster. The story's cliche, weak, poorly written. The million little pieces Mr. Frey kicked
Sep 16, 2010 Karl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was very easy to read and gave me the kind of travelogue that I've always really wanted for visiting a city - a glimpse at the real pulse of the city of LA which can be difficult for a tourist on the ground to sense. It is not a travel book, but it gives a very vivid snapshot of LA and its people. Lots of diverse narratives all coursing together in a warts and all look at Los Angeles and more broadly the concept of "California" in all its fucked up tarnished lustre. I don't care if Jam ...more
Jasmine Chehaiber
Nov 11, 2010 Jasmine Chehaiber rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matthew Vaughn
Nov 15, 2016 Matthew Vaughn rated it really liked it
I'm giving

I want to give the book 3 1\2 stars. I really like his writing style and all the mini stories, but a lot of the facts a bout L.A. and the lists of people were kind of annoying.
Mar 11, 2011 Esme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Nach Los Angeles kommen Menschen, die von einer Karriere als Schauspieler, Sänger, Model träumen; illegale Einwanderer, die sich ein besseres Leben erhoffen; Kinder und Jugendliche, die vor Missbrauch flüchten; Touristen, wie die Motten von Glamour und Sonne angezogen. Nach Los Angeles kommen die Menschen, um ihre Hoffnungen und Träume in dieser Stadt der Engel, Stadt der Träume zu verwirklichen, manchmal gelingt das, sehr oft nicht.
Los Angeles ist die Protagonistin im Buch "Bright Shiny Morn
Dec 20, 2008 Gerund rated it liked it
One of the first pages of the novel Bright Shiny Morning, just after the title page, bears this single sentence: “Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable”.
Its author, James Frey, shot to infamy in early 2006 when it was revealed that several incidents in his bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces (2003), about his struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction, were fabricated or exaggerated – for example, that he had once spent 87 days in jail (he actually spent only a f
Sam Quixote
Sep 20, 2011 Sam Quixote rated it it was amazing
Like John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" which is a novel about the Salinas Valley, James Frey's written a novel about Los Angeles, and wouldn't you know it, it's amazing.

The novel doesn't have Chapter 1, 2, etc. but does have separate sections which follow 4 main plot threads - a gay movie star, a young teen couple who've runaway to start a new life in LA, the daughter of immigrants out to find acceptance in society, and a beach bum. The book is also interspersed with sections devoted to facts abo
Jun 22, 2008 Anne rated it liked it
After all the controversy over Frey's "memoir," A Million Little Pieces, I just couldn't resist picking up his recent novel to see him take a stab at writing fiction that is actually represented as fiction. Bright Shiny Morning is both a history of Los Angeles, and a portrait of the various people attempting to live out their dreams in the City Angels. There is the American-born and raised daughter of Mexican immigrants, trying to make her parents' sacrifices worth their while. There is the worl ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Katelin rated it it was amazing
Originally posted here:

I had already read A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard so I sort of had an idea of what James Frey's writing was like and what I could expect before I picked up Bright Shiny Morning. However, this story moved me in ways unlike his other two. Although clearly deemed fiction, so much of Bright Shiny Morning seemed so real and it was incredibly hard for me to even put it down.

So hard to put down in fact that I found myself re
Feb 28, 2016 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book broke my heart yet gave me so much at the same time. James Frey has always been an interesting writer, and although he doesn't use grammar the way it's expected to be used I think it only adds to the emotion and pace of the book. I think with his unconventional writing style he enables a deeper connection to the character because it's raw and goes straight into what's happening. The story or stories, of the book revolve around a set of main characters as well as random ones who live in ...more
Whitney Canales
Jan 28, 2011 Whitney Canales rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2011
i should start off by saying i rarely find fiction enjoyable. that being said, call me old fashioned, but when i read a book, i want to read a good piece of literature, not 500 pages of run-on sentences that string together quick stories of little substance in which the only word uttered for any type of emotion is "fuck," or ten pages about highways and traffic on highways, or long lists of fictional first and last names of people who go to los angeles to become super stars and don't make it.

Dec 25, 2008 Guy rated it really liked it
Sinds bekend werd dat zijn A Million Little Pieces (memoires van een ex-junkie die lezen als een onvervalste helletocht) toch niet zo waarheidsgetrouw was, moet Frey zowat de meest verguisde schrijver van de Verenigde Staten zijn. Wat mij betreft legt hij met Bright Shiny Morning, zijn eerste echte roman, de kritikasters het zwijgen op. OK, je zit nog altijd met die stilistisch erg beperkte en benauwende stijl (veel korte, declaratieve zinnen, veel “I”, en een gebrek aan lees- en aanhalingsteken ...more
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James Frey is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. After battling with alcohol addiction and spending time in rehab, he wrote A Million Little Pieces which was published in 2003 in America and the following year in the UK to critical acclaim. He wrote the sequel, My Friend Leonard about life after rehab, which was published in 2005 in the US and the year after in the UK.

More about James J. Frey...

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“To live with angels and chase their dreams.” 36 likes
“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.” 28 likes
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