“Bright Shiny Morning”

August 5, 2008 at 8:06 pm | Posted in Fiction | 1 Comment

I picked up this book with a certain trepidation.  All I knew about James Frey was that he had written A Million Little Pieces and been chewed out on Oprah for representing the book as a memoir when it was at least partly “embellished.”  Curiosity is always a major motivator for me in reading a book, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Bright Shiny Morning is amazing.  It’s definitely experimental, but I thought it was beautifully done.  He changes writing styles, alternating history and nonfiction with fiction which is often somewhat stream-of-consciousness.  It takes a lot of confidence to attempt something like this, and Frey pulls it off.  He takes the theme of “people following their dreams and trying for a better life” and actually makes it work, in this jaded millennium.  It’s sweet and sad and frightening and funny.  There’s definitely not another book like it, not that I’ve read.

I just checked the reviews on Amazon.com, and they’re pretty mixed.  That’s often true of books I like.  I have a theory that mass market authors with a broad fan base probably get higher ratings than more literary books; in fact it looks like Danielle Steel and Dean Koontz get plenty of four- and five-star average reviews.  Make of that what you will.  You’ll know within 20 pages whether it’s your type of book.

I have one more comment.  If you read the front book jacket, you’ll find an unusual number of semicolons in the text.  Those are the last you’ll see.  I noticed in the first 40 pages or so that Frey sometimes uses very eccentric punctuation; I flipped back to double-check and then monitored the rest of the book in the back of my mind.  I wonder how many books outside of children’s literature manage to avoid semicolons entirely?  Colons you will find, here and there, and certainly plenty of commas, but no semicolons or parentheses or quote marks either.  If you are Lynne Truss, or my high school English teacher, consider yourself notified.

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1 Comment »

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  1. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!


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