Considering how he got here, it was inconceivable that James Frey’s first work of actual fiction not be brought to Earth on a wave of controversy. I myself came to Bright Shiny Morning fully prepared to loathe it. How could it be otherwise? Frey had gotten his shot with a couple of well-published and well-promoted biographies. He’d gotten his shot and blown it in a grand and noisy style. Shouldn’t Frey, in the tradition of historical wannabes everywhere, just go off with his tail between his legs and leave us alone on our various paths to finding books that matter?
But he did not. Instead, he took himself quietly off and emerged with a stout and ambitious book. Inevitably, fire was drawn.
Like many others, and with an admittedly jaundiced eye, I started to read. And was astonished. Bright Shiny Morning is not perfect. There are weirdly wide flaws. But it is utterly, completely original. More: the book’s flakey, broken narrative and bumper-to-bumper pace captures the feeling that is Los Angeles while its sharp little vignettes grab some of the context.
The full review is here.