James Frey’s ‘Bright Shiny Morning’: the reaction


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Does it surprise anybody that James Frey’s novel ‘Bright Shiny Morning’ is attracting so much attention?

Even though this book has nothing to do with the scandal around ‘A Million Little Pieces,’ and even though there is some distance -- more than two years -- separating this book’s appearance from Frey’s auto da fe on ‘Oprah,’ there has been plenty of response on the Web. Reactions have centered mostly on the differences between our paper’s review by Times book editor David Ulin and Janet Maslin’s for the New York Times.

Dana Goodyear notes, at her blog for the New Yorker, that the extreme difference of opinion in the reviews attests to the book’s ‘coastally polarizing effect.’ East Coasters love it because they think it’s about Los Angeles; West Coasters don’t, because they know it doesn’t really reflect L.A. at all.

What do they think in Texas? That they need another review to sort things out.


Mediabistro calls Janet Maslin’s review for the New York Times a ‘love letter’ and asks whether mimicking Frey’s writing style in the review is ‘dreadful.’

Did she read the review aloud or go back and revise it? In a video on Amazon, Frey says, ‘When I’m writing it, I sort of work on every sentence as a sentence, and I speak it to myself, and I rewrite it until it sounds the way I hear it in my head. Once I’ve got that, you know, I just move on. I don’t revise, really. I don’t read, at all.’

Meanwhile, ‘Bright Shiny Morning’ has rocketed from No. 666 on Amazon a week ago to No. 25.

Carolyn Kellogg