Book review: Bright Shiny Morning (James Frey)

Available at Exclusive Books and all good bookstores.

I have to be honest here… When Oprah publicly glorified and then just-as-publicly crucified James Frey for writing an ‘autobiographical account’ of his drug-addicted past that was, actually, largely fiction, I snorted and harrumphed along with everyone else. The shyster! I thought. The liar. The cheat. I bet he can’t even write.

Silly me.

As the Evening Standard so aptly puts it, ‘Frey really can write. Brilliantly. And if you don’t think so f*** you.’ (Frey also has a sense of humour. His first page reads, ‘Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable.’)

Anyway, back to the point…

Bright Shiny Morning rips the glittery veil off the city of Los Angeles, revealing beneath its pocked and grimy skin, topped with a pair of fairly pretty (if bloodshot) eyes. To do so, Frey uses a cast of related-yet-unrelated characters who get up to mischief or sadden us or force us to recognise within them strong hints of real celebrities (look out for Tom Cruise, Perez Hilton and several others). Frey also injects each chapter with real-life facts, stats and figures about LA – some of which are, frankly, horrifying.

To say that I loved this book beyond reason is true. To say that it made me even more afraid of Los Angeles than three previous visits have caused me to be, is truer. Particularly since I am married to an actor. But what’s truest of all is that James Frey is a kick-ass writer and I no longer care whether or not he lied unashamedly in A Million Little Pieces. I’m going to read it, and My Friend Leonard, anyway.