Saturday, May 17, 2008

'Bright Shiny Morning' by James Frey - Los Angeles Times:

"Bright Shiny Morning" is a terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah. Two and a half years after he was eviscerated by Oprah Winfrey for exaggerating many of the incidents in his now-discredited memoir "A Million Little Pieces," he's back with this book, which aims to be the big novel about Los Angeles, a panoramic look at the city that seeks to tell us who we are and how we live.

Clearly, HarperCollins, Frey's publisher, expects a lot from this book; it reportedly paid a million and a half dollars for it. You can interpret that in a few ways: as a shrewd business decision (as of this writing, the novel is No. 52 at or as yet another symbol of a book industry in crisis, with publishers grasping at whatever straws they can to manufacture buzz.

Ultimately, though, it is still what's on the page that matters, and "Bright Shiny Morning" is an execrable novel, a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining.