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Extended Audio Sample Bright Shiny Morning, by James Frey Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,251 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Frey Narrator: Ben Foster Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2008 ISBN: 9780061688287
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One of the most celebrated and controversial authors in America delivers his first novel—a sweeping chronicle of contemporary Los Angeles that is bold, exhilarating, and utterly original.

Dozens of characters pass across the reader’s sight lines—some never to be seen again—but James Frey lingers on a handful of LA’s lost souls and captures the dramatic narrative of their lives: a bright, ambitious young Mexican American woman who allows her future to be undone by a moment of searing humiliation; a supremely narcissistic action-movie star whose passion for the unattainable object of his affection nearly destroys him; a couple, both nineteen years old, who flee their suffocating hometown and struggle to survive on the fringes of the great city; and an aging Venice Beach alcoholic whose life is turned upside down when a meth-addled teenage girl shows up half-dead outside the restroom he calls home.

Throughout this strikingly powerful novel there is the relentless drumbeat of the millions of other stories that, taken as a whole, describe a city, a culture, and an age. A dazzling tour de force, Bright Shiny Morning illuminates the joys, horrors, and unexpected fortunes of life and death in Los Angeles.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “An absolute triumph of a novel…Frey, a natural novelist to his fingertips, hits the deeper truths with this honest, vibrant, and tender portrait of Los Angeles and the American dream…James Frey is probably one of the finest and most important writers to have emerged in recent years.” 

    Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting

  • “A captivating urban kaleidoscope…He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park…A furiously good storyteller.”

    New York Times

  • “[Frey’s] ambition may have been to write the definitive novel of LA, to do for that city what Joyce did for Dublin, Dos Passos did for Manhattan, or Durrell did for Alexandria. If so, he may have succeeded; Joyce boasted that if Dublin were to disappear, it could be reconstructed from his Ulysses, and Frey could make the same claim for Bright Shiny Morning…[It] reads quickly, has great dialogue and some expertly paced dramatic moments, teaches you more about LA than you ever knew, and makes the case (posited by an artist near the end) that Los Angeles is the new New York, on its way to becoming the cultural capital of the world. Or it could all be a stinging satire of the most violent, corrupt, polluted, pretentious, money-mad place in America. Works either way.” 

    Washington Post

  • “A sprawling, ambitious novel about Los Angeles, written with all the broad-stroke energy that was so irresistible to readers in A Million Little Pieces.”

    Vanity Fair

  • “With the sheer quantity and quality of characters that pop up in this tale, Ben Foster offers a truly a magnificent performance…His voice doesn’t call attention to itself but his delivery is stellar and his interpretations are all realistic and never overplayed.” 

    Publishers Weekly (audio review)

  • “The guy has something: an energy, a drive, a relentlessness…It’s un-put-downable, a real page-turner.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Frey’s brush strokes paint a captivating portrait of contemporary Los Angeles with bold splashes…Ben Foster expertly captures the author’s compelling style with outstanding pacing…as well as humor and sarcasm…[An] insightful delivery. Foster seizes Frey’s poetic documentary with its gritty dialogue and produces an exhilarating, unforgettable experience.” 

    AudioFile

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caitlin | 2/17/2014

    " I read this one in hopes that it would be as quirky as Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard, both of which I enjoyed. I can say that while his first novel entertained me, it was not as good as I'd hoped. I loved learning many facts about Los Angeles while also reading coinciding stories of various main characters. I can get over the writing style and the sarcasm, but I would have liked to see Frey either write all of the stories about generic people in LA, or write solely about in-depth characters for the entire book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura Wirick | 2/15/2014

    " I thought I would have trouble getting into his writing style, but it was easy. I liked how this is a combination love letter to Los Angeles but also makes fun of it a bit. I also liked the info about the history of L.A. mixed in, and the thinly veiled stories based on real people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pamela Levine | 2/12/2014

    " Many different characters in this novel - interesting take on life in L.A. Very different from his 2 previous books "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Clare | 2/9/2014

    " I was so stoked to see Frey had another book out that I had to buy it ASAP. Sad fact was that it in no way lived up to his other books. It feels like such a let down when that happens. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 2/3/2014

    " Really think he's a good story teller. A little tired of the run on sentences/lack of grammar. For someone who is questioning life in Los Angeles, this is an exception read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joseph | 2/1/2014

    " This books reads very melodramatically and I do not know if this was the author's intention as a critique of the city of LA. Besides the extragavance of facts, it does not really seem to capture the essence of LA. I really don't care for the 'lets have some facts and then a parable/story to demonstrate facts.' This is a pale imitation of Dos Passos USA trilogy style of writing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alexa Stamatyades | 1/17/2014

    " I really need to stop reading books that make me cry. Lemonade and Dylan broke my heart. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caitlin Hillen | 1/15/2014

    " Good story, but ... a little hard to follow, and overall fairly depressing. Well written though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christina | 1/10/2014

    " The first book I've read by James Frey and I loved it! It was written in a very unique way that I loved. A great book that was hard to put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 1/6/2014

    " I was reluctant to read this James Frey after the first two non memoir books, but he really is a good writer. This story is interesting, it tells you more than you could ever want to know about LA. I now really must go to LA. I did enjoy it, but perhaps I harbor hard feelings. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kari Gang | 6/29/2013

    " James Frey characterizes Los Angeles through his characters. Some nice history woven through as well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gale | 5/20/2013

    " Interesting, but not as compelling as "A Million Little Pieces". The author's gift is the ability to deal with seedy characters, but still make them likeable. Very long, I skipped several parts about the history of Los Angles, just didn't grab my attention. Billed as fiction this time. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Renee | 12/1/2012

    " liked the facts and the "fictional"characters (Amberton=Cruise???)A good way to get a comprehensive glimpse into LA. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dianamv | 11/14/2012

    " Frey has an interesting and novel writing style. The book is a great holistic depiction of life and people in LA mixed with historical facts that may or may not be true, but sound believable and are definitely entertaining. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stephen | 9/15/2012

    " loved the sories going on in the novel as well as the information on Los Angeles...I like James Frey's style and could care less about the controversy over his first book/memoir....still enjoyed it and have read everything of his thus far.... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jana | 7/6/2012

    " I really enjoyed this book. It didn't end the way I wanted it to in a number of scenarios but it is LA. What was I expecting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Hollie | 5/19/2012

    " Disappointing. Stick to writing 'non-fiction'. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 PANK Magazine | 5/27/2011

    " Accurate depiction of Los Angeles; odd narrative style; sometimes self-indulgent; worth reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 4/30/2011

    " By now it's probably obvious I'm a sucker for anything James Frey. I love his style. He does a great job with the characters in this book, and the little side LA facts are cool too. Not as good as A Million Little Pieces/My Friend Leonard, but still worthwhile. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 4/25/2011

    " 3.5 stars - especially good if you know L.A. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 4/23/2011

    " Brilliant, from beginning to end. My favorite example of experimental writing, to date! I highly recommend this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Briana | 4/19/2011

    " he has such a distinctive style and is a master storyteller "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brittany | 4/7/2011

    " At times I wonder if Frey is actually writing his own original story or just daring to say what we all think and imagine but won't confess. Either way, I couldn't put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jen | 4/6/2011

    " I didn't think this was as good as A Million Little Pieces, but it was an interesting read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 3/31/2011

    " I really enjoyed this book! The writing style is a bit hard to get into but once you get used to it you are totally engrossed in the characters and don't want it to end. "

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