Customer Reviews


73 Reviews
5 star:
 (26)
4 star:
 (21)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (7)
1 star:
 (8)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars so troubling
I really wanted to find fault with this book, given Frey's history, but I was moved shaken, stunned and even goddman educated by this incredible magnum opus. what moves me so much is the spartan story telling technique, the way it lays peoples lives out in broad simple strokes, un-decorated with similies metaphors and poetic language. There are no nature metaphors here,...
Published on 14 April 2009 by dobosphere

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cynical
Call me cynical but Frey is cynical and this seemed to me as a fairly cynical attempt to write the big american novel with multi-charcaters, multi-plots against the backdrop of a city. Dont get me wrong I enjoyed it (though not as much as My Friend Leonard) but as I was reading I was constantly reminded of some other author. About 250 pages in and on one of the 'Amberton'...
Published on 24 Jan 2012 by Dillinger


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars so troubling, 14 April 2009
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Paperback)
I really wanted to find fault with this book, given Frey's history, but I was moved shaken, stunned and even goddman educated by this incredible magnum opus. what moves me so much is the spartan story telling technique, the way it lays peoples lives out in broad simple strokes, un-decorated with similies metaphors and poetic language. There are no nature metaphors here, there is no God and no transcendence, there are just people in their multitudes, with their mini-story lives, and that is a thing of beauty to behold.
Bright shiny morning is a powerful and moving picture of a very messed up city. every character seems real and alive and we feel for them all, whether they are abusers or abused, victims or conquerors. life goes on and lives through these pages.
My only grievance is that one of the narrative strands seems to end short but then I just wanted this book to go on and on and on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bright shiny glitzy brash trashy morning, 13 Feb 2009
By 
Tealady2000 (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a riot of a book, with a fast-paced, frantic feel created by using a `stream of consciousness' narrative style in the present tense. (NB there is a distinct lack of punctuation, so if that bothers you, give this a miss). James Frey does an excellent job of trying to capture the character of a city through the style of writing. I loved the structure, in which more factual sections are interspersed with stories - some uplifting, most shocking - of those who come to LA seeking fame and fortune. A great holiday read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable, 31 May 2012
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book - I know the authour is controversial in the US for his other work, A Million Little Pieces and the whole Oprah Winfrey business but I didn't let that deter me from judging this book on its own merit and I thoroughly enjoyed it.I liked the lists of facts about LA, although not so much the fictional lists such as daily log of guns/ rifles sold. The story features four main plots - a young couple escaping a horrible family life in a small town US city, a famous Hollywood actor living in the closet with a cover up wife (a lesbian) and children, a young insecure, intelligent Mexican woman scraping a living cleaning rich peoples houses and a homeless alcoholic, aswell as little snippets of numerous characters which were given a brief description of but no actual storyline, which I felt could have maybe been developed a little more? Overall, I enjoyed the story of the young couple the most as I felt the characters were the ones I could relate to and would like a sequel to find out what happens to them next? Overall, excellent read and one I would recommend.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, 15 May 2011
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Paperback)
Please be warned,do not start this book unless you have time to lose yourself in this fast paced ,unforgettable experience of a read.This book delves into the lives of people like me and you,and the richest and the poorest people of L.A.It dips into the history of the beginnings of this city through to the present day whilst keeping you completely hooked on its humanity.You will feel better for the experience,but it will leave you searching out Freys other works immediately.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great achievement, 7 Feb 2010
By 
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Paperback)
I feared this may be a trashy novel in the Collins genre.....it is not. It is an intelligent piece of work, depicting a wide ranging cast of characters in an earthy and realistic portrayal of life in Los Angeles. Each chapter starts with a piece of information regarding the development of the area and, as we move into the story, learn quite a bit more about this metropolis and how it became what it is today.

I do have a criticism - Mr Frey is rather fond of lists. Lists of gun purchasers, lists of gangs, lists of freeways. I know these lists are used to make a point but it is a tactic used too often, hence loses impact with every new list.

I quite forgot I was reading a work of fiction - it is very believable and fully deserving of a five star rating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Demons in the City of Angels, 2 Feb 2010
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
Like John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" which is a novel about the Salinas Valley, James Frey's written a novel about Los Angeles, and wouldn't you know it, it's amazing.

The novel doesn't have Chapter 1, 2, etc. but does have separate sections which follow 4 main plot threads - a gay movie star, a young teen couple who've runaway to start a new life in LA, the daughter of immigrants out to find acceptance in society, and a beach bum. The book is also interspersed with sections devoted to facts about LA while separate pages divide these sections with each page containing a piece of history of LA from it's founding to present day. The main character - Los Angeles, the city itself - has separate sections about it's highways, it's movie industry, it's ethnic sections like Chinatown etc, it's weather and geography, it's inhabitants.

The beach bum, Old Man Joe, showed the life of a homeless person and yet was by far the most attractive (sort of). Joe is a great character, a man who lives in a toilet, drinking Chablis during the day, and sits on the beach at dawn awaiting a vision. He meets a young girl addicted to meth and beaten nearly to death and takes it upon himself to help her. Esperanza, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, provides the warm centre of the book. The beaten down underdog who succeeds in the end, her story was the sweetest and the one you cheered for once you reached the end. The young runaways, Dylan and Maddie, were the ones I thought were supposed to show the opposite to the many horrorific stories Frey throws out about people who come to LA, and it very nearly was until the ending. Frey really doesn't believe in happily ever after and keeps you guessing until the last page. The gay movie star, Amberton Parker (Parker = Cruise?), was the least interesting but was still readable.

I mention "East of Eden" because it's the great California novel. "Bright Shiny Morning", it's 21st century equivalent, is also a great California novel. It's ambitious and it's scope is large but Frey pulls it off admirably with maverick writing skills (difficult for some because of the unconventional use of grammar and punctuation - or absence thereof) and a strong instinct for storytelling. It's never boring and he never resorts to hackneyed reveals, coincidence, or melodramatic deus ex machinas.

There's too much in the book to talk about and too much I liked about it but suffice it to say that I wouldn't be surprised to see this in the Penguin Classics range in 100 years time. It's clever and has many layers to it but is also very entertaining and can be enjoyed by the casual reader looking for an excellent tale. I really think this is one of the best American novels of the last 10 years and if this is any indication then Frey is destined for quite a career. I look forward to the next novel. Bravo James Frey!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty realistic and you can almost smell LA., 20 May 2009
By 
N. J. Barnett (London,England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Paperback)
I bought this book having read James Frey other books. I was prepared to be disappointed but wasn't. There are alot of different characters to try to get to grips with but it is so much like the shizophrenic attitidue of city life. There are so many contrasts, classes, races and shows how messed up life is. I love the comparison of actors who are paid millions to remember a few lines while the most philosophical character is living on Venice Beach and lives with his daily fix of wine.
I much prefer realistic books compared to the wishy washy stuff which is usually out there.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first new direction in literature for centuries, 23 Aug 2008
By 
SH_ (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
This is quite simply the best novel I have ever read, by a very long margin. It does everything that Pynchon tries to do but fails because he's too clever and abstract. Without ever using incomprehensible language James Frey breaks the ridiculous stranglehold of heroic plotting and focus on one individual to give us a novel with multiple points of interest that had me simply gasping for more and devastated when I came to the end.

Nothing I have ever read before achieved that.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City Of Blinding Lights, 4 Aug 2008
By 
Mr. S. O'kane "snagii" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
From what I've read elsewhere James Frey has already cut an infamous figure in literary circles with his debut book 'A Million Little Pieces'. Purported - at first - to be a personal memoir of his past, it was later exposed by the media as pure fiction instead. Cue huge public outrage and a public dressing down & humiliation on the Oprah Winfrey show. To be honest, I'd not heard a single word about all of this before I began this novel and I'm glad I didn't: 'Bright Shiny Morning' is absolutely brilliant regardless of any reputation Frey has.

This novel isn't easy to describe. There are 4 main plots and these are mixed in with either brief snapshots of other minor denizens of LA or various bits of trivia about the city today (for example a list of the innumerate murderous gangs that roam its streets). Every break in the book is punctuated with events in the history of the city in the form of a single paragraph on a single page. Like the city itself, the novel is a sprawling mix of these strands but it never complicates itself by twisting them all together. The brief snippets of history and one off stories here & there allow the 4 main plots to breathe independently.

I thoroughly enjoyed this innovative book from cover to cover. Aside from the book's wonderful structure, the 4 main stories reflect the best known aspects of LA (& America today) very well: the rich & famous, the down & out, the migrant worker and kids in search of the American Dream. I often did wonder amidst the bulk of the novel if some of the shorter ones would be expanded later on or somehow clash with the bigger stories but, on reflection now, I'm glad they didn't. Such is the vastness of LA's varied populace, perhaps leaving out other individual voices meant some parts had to stand alone (beguilingly) in the way they did. The novel is really is a such a huge, delicious yet terrifying mix of ideas and one started to sense that the lead character wasn't someone from the 4 main stories, but Los Angeles itself.

This is my novel of the year so far. By a country mile. A modern masterpiece.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling, if flawed, glimpse into a fascinating city and its inhabitants., 24 May 2008
This review is from: Bright Shiny Morning (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Bright Shiny Morning is a sprawling modern epic which revolves around the city of Los Angeles. The novel is focused mainly around five main characters: Esperanza, a fiercely intelligent Mexican American who pretends to be an illegal immigrant to obtain a job as a maid; Old Man Joe, a homeless alcoholic who tries to give his life some sort of meaning by rescuing a runaway; Amberton, a rich, handsome and successful (gay) movie star with a wife and children; and Dylan and Maddie, two young adults who run away to escape their impoverished and abusive upbringings to start a new life.

Alongside these characters are dozens of other characters whose stories are told in short vignettes, never to be mentioned again, including a troubled young starlet reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, and a thinly veiled account of Perez Hilton's life. These brief sections are largely successful at adding more depth and variety to the novel whilst developing interesting characters and situations in a very short space of time.

To provide the reader with an idea of the background of LA, each "chapter" opens up with a brief outline of a significant event in the city's history, and throughout the novel there are illuminating facts and figures about LA. The juxtaposition of these different stories and trivia creates a fragmented, almost schizophrenic structure to the story which mirrors the crazy dualities of LA itself. Topics include pollution, crime, gang membership, immigration, gun ownership, the film and pornography industries, homelessness and education. Most of the time these passages are interesting and add further detail to the novel, but can on occasion become repetitive lists, for example of motorways and roads in LA or the names of various gangs that exist.

The overall impression is of a colourful, complex city of which the author is exposing only a snapshot at one moment in time. It is reminiscent of films such as Crash and Magnolia which also focus on large casts of characters and their interlocking lives in LA. We are warning at the beginning of the novel, "Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable," which establishes that regardless of whether these bite of trivia and story are based on fact or fiction, it is the message behind them which matters- and that's an accurate reflection of a city where suffering, violence and injustice prevails beneath the sheen of Hollywood glamour and success.

It is the four main characters who are most likely to stay in memory as they are more developed over the course of the novel, finding themselves in complicated situations and faced with difficult choices. Almost all of the characters do things that could be considered morally ambiguous, but ultimately Frey remains distant and non-judgemental, allowing the reader to decide the difference between right and wrong. On a few occasions I felt Frey fell slightly short of creating fully sympathetic, believable characters, for example Amberton become remains as cruel and selfish as the novel progresses and we never get a glimpse of real humanity beneath the mask to make him a truly compelling character.

One thing that remains constant throughout the book is that fate plays a cruel role in all of the character's lives, and the overall impression is that life is a difficult battle for survival, particularly in the battleground of LA where the rich get richer and the poor stay poor, where the population continues to increase as it is flooded with yet more people trying (and usually failing) to achieve the American Dream.

Frey deals with issues of race, class and economics in a realistic manner and explores the relationships between people in these terms. It's just unfortunate that in some ways he misses opportunities to develop these ideas further- for example of the five main characters, only one could be classified as "non-white" so most of the other characters of different races appear only once or twice in short passages and then disappear.

Throughout the story, there are glimpses of humanity and kindness which prevent the book from becoming too depressing, and relationships which manage to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way. Ultimately I was a little dissatisfied with the way the novel ended, but perhaps that was the point. At least one of the characters seemed to get a happy ending, but many of the others ended ambiguously or with unhappy circumstances. I felt that we hadn't reached the end of some of their stories- but after all, life doesn't always result in a happy, neat ending.

I was thoroughly engaged in the story throughout, but I do wonder whether such a flurry of situations and characters will eventually leave a strong impression on me, despite several powerful and well written moments. It is worth wondering how the novel might have been improved Frey had removed all of the shorter vignettes and trivia sections to focus solely on the four main story threads and develop them further, but again this might have missed part of the transitory message of the novel, and that every successful superstar or homeless alcoholic has ten more people ready to take their place.

Note- one previous reviewer dismissed the entire novel, on the grounds that the some of the punctuation and grammar was incorrect. However others should be aware that the copies given to Amazon Vine reviewers are NOT an accurate reflection of the final product- they often contain typos and lack the punctuation that will obviously be finished for the final edited version, as Amazon advises, "we ask that you focus on the potential of the overall book and its content as opposed to missing editorial features or errors in syntax."

Thus when reading I was aware of this and it shouldn't discount the entire book from serious consideration. Even with the mistakes present in the unfinished copy, it was hardly difficult to re-read the occasional sentence to make sense of it and mentally insert the correct punctuation.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Bright Shiny Morning
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey (Paperback - 19 Mar 2009)
6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews