James Frey is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He is married and lives in New York.
When James Frey imploded as a memoirist in 2006, many said his A Million Little Pieces should have been--and perhaps initially was--presented as a novel, and that Frey--a sometimes screenwriter--was, both by nature and design, a fiction writer. Bright Shiny Morning is his first official book of fiction. If it's not quite a novel, less believable in its way than his "augmented" memoir ever was, there's no doubt it's a work of Frey's imagination. Ironic, isn't it? Set in contemporary Los Angeles, Bright Shiny Morning is not a cohesive narrative but a compilation of vignettes of several characters (if this were a memoir, we'd call them "composites") who have come to the city to fulfill their dreams. Some examples: Dylan and Maddie, madly-in-love Midwestern runaways who survive through the kindness of near strangers; Esperanza, a Mexican-American maid tortured by a body that could have been drawn by R. Crumb; a group of drunks and junkies who create a community behind the shacks on Venice Beach; Amberton Parker, a hugely famous married movie star who is secretly--you guessed it--gay. Interspersed with these rotating portraits are random historical and statistical factoids (which better have been fact-checked, even if there is a nudge-nudge, wink-wink disclaimer up front: "Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable") about L.A.: that, for example, "approximately 2.7 million people live without health insurance" and "there are more than 12,000 people who describe their job as bill collector in the City of Los Angeles." Frey's intention, it seems, is to create an onomatopoetic jumble, a cacophony of facts and fiction, stats and stories, that replicate the contradictory nature of the place they describe. I expect, given the sharpness of the knives that some critics have out for Frey, that many will say the book flat out doesn't work. First off, there's that voice, the hyperbolic, breathless, run-on, word-repeating voice that was much better suited to a memoir (or even a novel) in which the hero was a hyperbolic, breathless alcoholic and drug addict. And then there's the frat-boy swagger that angered some readers of AMLP turning up here, too, so faux-cynical as to be naive: the gang father's attaboy about his five-year-old son's desire to be a cold-blooded killer, and the prurient, adolescent take on sex. (And couldn't someone have stopped him from exclaiming "woohoo" after some of his "fun" and "not fun" factoids?) Yet the guy has something: an energy, a drive, a relentlessness, maybe, that can pull readers along, past the voice, past the stock characters, past the cliches. Bright Shiny Morning is a train wreck of a novel, but it's un-put-downable, a real page-turner--in what may come to be known as the Frey tradition. Sara Nelson is the editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Frey clearly has a knack for telling tales - this story of interweaving, never-meeting strangers in LA is an engrossing read - The TimesFrey has produced a novel that is defiant in both its grammatical rebellion and its fierce pace - ObserverHe turns clich?s into characters robust enough to carry this 500-page Californian odyssey - Guardian[It] pays little heed to conventional syntax, thus creating a beguiling momentum of its own, propelled by raw emotion and energy ... this compulsive novel is testament that good fiction can reveal powerful emotional truths - Independent on SundayThis dazzling novel focuses on a crazy cross section of the city's fictional characters - Look MagazineAll the characters are cleverly juxtaposed against the history and atmosphere of Los Angeles itself ... a riveting and hugely enjoyable read: rushy, entertaining and appealing - Sunday Business PostFor fans of gritty modern writing, this fast and fascinating story paints a portrait of the Los Angeles that Hollywood films and TV dramas rarely show - BellaThe gritty, gloriousness of James Frey's writing will suck you in ... one of our favourites already! - U Magazine
An ambitious young Mexican American woman. A self-regarding action star. Two teenaged runaways. A Venice Beach alcoholic. They all show up in this portrait of Los Angeles, which perhaps should not be billed as Frey's debut novel. With a national tour; one-day laydown. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.