Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bright Shiny Morning

I don't care what happened to James Frey in the past or whether or not he embellished the truth in his first two books. I adore his stream-of-consciousness writing. I also believe that part of his addiction was the inability to tell the truth and can set aside the "lying" because his autobiography is still amazing. That being said, I was extremely excited to read his first legitimate fiction novel, Bright Shiny Morning.

At first, I had a hard time getting into the book because every chapter is about someone or something completely different. It wasn't easy for me to invest in any specific character. As the book went on, it became apparent that there were only going to be a few main characters, while the rest of the chapters were just brief glimpses at others. This concept left me wanting more, but I think that is exactly what Frey was aiming for.

Anyway, the book is an homage of sorts to L.A. Each character either originates from or migrates to the City of Angels. Their lives are desperate attempts at happiness with the sureness that the City will be the place they will find it. There's the closeted gay actor with a wife and children who will pay anything for discreet male companionship. The 19-year-olds who struggle for every penny because anything is better than their family they left behind in Ohio. The immigrant housekeeper who works for the most vile employer just so she can save money for college. The homeless "old man" (who is only 39-years old) with a heart of gold trying to find his true purpose in life. And little snippets of others struggling to find their way. Again, it is hard for me to get invested in characters who don't have constant story lines, but Frey really makes it work. I was anxious for another chapter about Old Man Joe or the others because they were so spread out with lots of little stories in between. I was left craving more information about people whose tale only last for a few pages. When I was finished, I thought about the characters for days afterward.

While it normally takes me a few chapters to start flowing from sentence to sentence, I still absolutely love Frey's style: no paragraphs, no quotation marks, run-on sentences. It's a challenge at first, but one that I really look forward to. I am now eagerly waiting for his next novel!

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