Just say “no”
“Nothing in this book should be
considered accurate or reliable.” That’s easily the most amusing
writing (and irony) offered by James Frey in Bright Shiny
Morning. This terse line is found just after the title page
of his numbingly dull novel. Given Frey’s problems with phony memoirs,
such a warning probably isn’t necessary.
What’s wrong with the book?
Everything. From the cheap-looking cover to the annoying, long-winded
chapters. Hopeless characters plod across the pages—dozens of them to
And you’ll discover that you
don’t give a rip about a single one of them. From Amberton
Parker—public heterosexual, private homosexual—to the pathetic,
fat-thighed Esperanza, the reader is tormented by a cast so poorly
drawn and ill-defined that you might think Frey had never written a
Oh, that’s right. He hasn’t. And
he shouldn’t have bothered with this one.
The run-on no punctuation
sentences get annoying mighty quick. And yet, Bright Shiny
Morning was proudly printed and promoted by Harper Collins,
no less. Maybe someone reading this rant could be a published novelist
by now if this nearly 500-page stack of drivel had been rightfully
rejected. Just say “no.” Editors have no qualms about using that line
on far more worthy efforts.
I haven’t even gotten to the
worst parts of the book.
Besides the dull, monotone voice
taken in the narrative, Frey tortures his readers by adding in pages of
“facts about Los Angeles.” So it’s like getting two boring books in
one. A clunky, perverse history of LA, and a parade of characters
swirling down the toilet. Unfortunately, there’s no ultimate
destination where each tired, tacky story entwines for a meaningful
ending. Nope. You just get to watch a collection of sad people come to
the realization that life stinks. And it’s all God’s fault.
there’s that. Frey clearly
wasn’t trying to create a new Christian classic, but he seems to take
pride in going out of his way to blame the Almighty for everything.
Prayers are never answered, babies are left fatherless, an old drunk’s
friend dies. It’s all bad. And God’s the ultimate Bad Guy. Looking at a
crucifix, the creatively named character, Old Man Joe, emotes the
and say you deserve and we must or we are condemned all you give us is
this, this world where children get burned alive and men spend their
money blowing each other up and women sell themselves to feed and all
we see is destruction and war and mayhem in your name and it never gets
better and you never stop all-knowing and all-powerful it never ends.
It never ends. And it never will.
Seriously, that was published.
And, no, there aren’t any typos in there. My suggestion? Don’t waste
your time reading Bright Shiny Morning. Unless you
enjoy stories about porn, the foulest of language, and the dumbest of
Dull Dark Night.
That would have been a better title. Maybe that’s what Frey can call