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Publisher's Summary

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 L.A.'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 19 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.

©2008 James Frey; (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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Performance

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    36
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    24
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Story

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Brillaintly written, brilliantly narrated

After falling in love with "A Million Little Pieces" James Frey's debut "memoir," I feared that his oh-so-public fall from grace would mean this innovative voice of contemporary American letters would be silenced forever.

But Frey has proven with "Bright, Shiny Morning" that his talent was no fluke. In fact, I liked this book even better than his two previous works.

"Bright, Shiny Morning" brings to life a cast of Los Angelenos--the beautiful and the damned, which in this novel, are often qaulities infused in the same character.

Frey takes us deep inside the warped psyche of the offensively rich, sickeningly self-absorbed Hollywood magastar--and then to the clever, humble Mexican American maid who fakes an accent so her wealthy, sadistic employer can feel superior. My heart was completely involved with the young couple who left abusive Midwest lives behind to find something better in LA. And he presents a sympathetic portrait of life on the streets of Venice, where homeless people eek out a living next to million dollar bungalows.

"Bright, Shiny Morning" yields up deeply crafted characters that put a heart and soul to those living in the ultimate soul-less city.

A note on narrator Ben Foster: As a legally blind person who is also a voracious consumer of books, I often feel at the mercy of marrators. A bad narration can ruin a great book. But Ben Foster was the perfect choice to bring this book to audio life. I loved his interpretation of the various characters' voices and the sardonic verve with which he infused Frey's jaded look at the land of big dreams. Simply brilliant narration.

I highly recommend this book. If you want to hear something cutting edge in literature--this is your book.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • T.J.
  • Northern California, United States
  • 02-03-09

Love the writer, not the book

While this book was interesting and he does a great job of developing characters that hold your interest the book was sub par. The person who actually did the reading of the book gets a 10... great job really.

- Too many characters to follow and not enough content about the characters. Just when the characters are built and are interesting to you they disappear.

- Not sure what was up with all the weird music breaks but it seemed like senseless filler to me

- The facts about L.A. and the lists he read were horrible and mostly boring distractions from the stories of the characters. I found myself fast forwarding through these parts after listening to half of the book.

I was left feeling empty and unfulfilled by the book... like there was more to say about these characters but with all the other stuff jammed in there just wasn't time.

Had potential but in my opinion it lost out.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Leona
  • Annandale, VA, USA
  • 06-17-10

Couldn't Stop Listening

I purchased this book by mistake having confused it with A Bright Shining Lie. Initially I was disappointed as this really isn't the kind of book in which I'd normally be interested, but there I was on a long trip with this book in my iPod so I started listening. Before I knew it I couldn't tear myself away. I quickly became wrapped up in the lives of each of the different characters and almost two years later something will remind of the book and the memory of it is still vivid - which as forgetfully as I am - is truly amazing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Sooo Good

This is such good writing. I love this author. I forgive him that he wasn't an addict. Oprah, you need to rethink your anger towards him. Maybe he just got caught up in the moment.....the NOW. He is becoming one of our primo authors. I was born in LA. I got out of there. Frey shows the butt end of that community and it is true and not pretty. If you ask me this is a piece of work, and by the way, this reader gets my 5 star applause.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kimberly
  • Santa Rosa Beach, FL, United States
  • 11-22-11

Gritty Los Angeles satire

If it weren't for the music between chapters, I might give this book 5 stars overall. The music, which is at the end of every chapter and then repeated again at the beginning of every chapter is by far the most annoying music I have encountered in an audio book. It has nothing to do with the story and is entirely unnecessary. I generally don't like music between chapters but have never hated it so much....

The book, however, is great - it follows several fairly stereotypical characters in L.A. and has both extremely harsh and tender moments. Frey writes in an almost stream of consciousness manner which serves to portray each character's thoughts intimately.

It's not as dark as A Million Little Pieces but it's not a cheery piece of fiction (Frey is careful to point out that this work is FICTION, to avoid flack from the critics).

It's read by Ben Foster, the actor in 3:10 to Yuma and the Messenger and he does an amazing job of capturing Frey's characters.

Highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tommy
  • Arlington, TX, USA
  • 05-28-08

The Spirit of Steinbeck

Never did I ever expect to encounter the spirit of John Steinbeck in a (current) novel about los angeles. Frey's characters and sense of place drew me in like I haven't been drawn in for years. Some of the "lists" could get annoying, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A great story beautifully told in a contemporary style that reminded me of what I loved so much about Steinbeck, especially his characters from Cannery Row and Sweeth Thursday.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great listen! Ben Foster is excellent!

Would you listen to Bright Shiny Morning again? Why?

Maybe the parts with the facts about LA.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Danny. LA county.

Which scene was your favorite?

The first week of golfing.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh hard, 3-5 times. Chuckle lots.

Any additional comments?

Please make Ben Foster read more books! He is excellent! Of he read David Baldacci, I would buy every one of them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Lil
  • Idaho Falls, ID, United States
  • 09-26-11

Captivating and Brilliantly Assembled

I thought this story mirrored "real life" so well! Frey managed to give life to LA, personifying her via characters, hopes, dreams, and history. I was captivated from beginning to end. Not all the stories are happy, but they represent each life lived, poorly or brilliantly, according to the person. Such a rich story upon a story. LOVED IT! Narrator was PHENOMENAL!!!! He seemed to really love the story, himself, or at least understand it enough to pour his own emotion into it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

extremely well read

The reading of this book is one of the best I've ever heard.
But..., this is a difficult book to hear/read. Much of the ugliness you imagine about life in LA is played out in this book in the stories of the various characters. The stories are interspersed with interesting details about LA itself. Read the book and don't move there.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • kansas city, MO, United States
  • 01-31-11

break my heart why don't you.

this is my favorite author.. i love books with several stories going on at once. its like t.v. best part was when lemonade says.. "love camo". sad story. great characters. the man is a genius.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful