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Bright Shiny Morning

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  14,265 ratings  ·  1,519 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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Mark Alexander It's English title is "Bright Shiny Morning". They're the same book :).…moreIt's English title is "Bright Shiny Morning". They're the same book :).(less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  14,265 ratings  ·  1,519 reviews

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May 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 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 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
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
May 18, 2008 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
Ashley Daviau
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know there’s been some controversy with some of Frey’s other works but I’m a huge fan nonetheless. Whether it’s fiction or not, who gives a shit, it’s still good. Anyways, enough of that and onto this book! I didn’t like it quite as much as the other books I’ve read by Frey but I did still very much enjoy it. I love the different views he gives of the city, showing us all facets and faces of it. Some were heartbreaking, some were groan worthy but all of them were fascinating and captivating. M ...more
Oct 30, 2012 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 not fa ...more
Tom LA
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading Bright Shiny Morning. I really loved it.

Written as a collage, the book is an ode to Los Angeles. I’m not sure it can technically be called a novel, because it follows several parallel story lines that never meet.

The author traced a collective vision of the city, high and low, from Hollywood to the Valley to East L.A. - a successful attempt to get at the fluidity of Los Angeles, it’s constant inflows and outflows.

There's Old Man Joe, a drunk who inhabits a bathroom on the Venic
Melanie Moat
May 31, 2015 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." ...more
Shea Ivy
Jun 24, 2008 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
B the BookAddict
Dec 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 15, 2013 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 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
Mar 27, 2009 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
Jun 23, 2009 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
Apr 02, 2011 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
Anastasia Alén
Mar 12, 2016 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 16, 2008 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 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
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Odd, interesting book. Kind of incoherent but one of the most accurate descriptors of Los Angeles I've read in recent memory. ...more
May 17, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 27, 2008 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
May 21, 2008 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
Jul 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I regret buying this book.

I could not bring myself to read every word, so, when I got to page 300 I started skimming through the book, left chunks of chapters untouched and just convinced myself that I’ve seen and read enough, that I don’t need to torture myself further.

So, this was my first read of any of James Frey works and I do not understand the hype. This book was bad that it hurts, not just plain bad, it was as if Frey was doing it purposely, for a fraction of a second, I was almost conv
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fucked-up and dark and depressing and heartbreaking and beautiful and haunting and amazing all at the same time. Truly a special novel that I cannot recommend enough. Won't make you ever want to go to LA though. ...more
Feb 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
I love this author
Jasmine Chehaiber
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anthony Friscia
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit
Ugh, this book... I kept wanting throw it against the wall, and it kept pulling me back in with the false hope of it getting better. James Frey, the man made famous for writing a best-selling and falsified memoir, writes a book that mostly borrowed from other books. Every trope in it you’ve seen somewhere before. As a bonus, it’s about LA, so not only do you get every hackneyed literary plot, you get every overused stereotype of LA. It’s full of fake movie industry people who use their glamour t ...more
James Smith
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I'll be honest: I was partly sucked in by the cover of this book, which captures a kind of light as I remember it from when I lived in Los Angeles. Within a few pages, I was hooked by Frey's colloquial minimalism, though this is probably partly due to nostalgia: the novel describes spaces in L.A. that used to be home for me, so this novel was a way of returning. But for a novel that's probably mediocre at best, Frey does an excellent job of capturing the overwhelming ugliness of Los Angeles--som ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Surprisingly touching, unexpectedly lovely lament for and love letter to LA. I was annoyed by it, then couldn't put it down, and by the end was fully bought-in. ...more
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James Christopher Frey is an American author and entrepreneur. 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.

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