Frey the fake memoirist is with us again - why?

May 18, 2008|By David L. Ulin | David L. Ulin,Los Angeles Times

BRIGHT SHINY MORNING

By James Frey

HarperCollins / 512 pages / $26.95

Bright Shiny Morning is a terrible book. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah. Two and a half years after he was eviscerated by Oprah Winfrey for exaggerating many of the incidents in his now-discredited memoir, A Million Little Pieces, he's back with this book, which aims to be the big novel about Los Angeles.

Clearly, HarperCollins, Frey's publisher, expects a lot from this book; it reportedly paid $1.5 million for it. Ultimately, though, it is still what's on the page that matters, and Bright Shiny Morning is a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining.

Whatever else his failings as a writer, Frey was once able to move his readers; how else do we explain the success of A Million Little Pieces? It's just one of the ironies of this new book that his fictionalized memoir is a better novel than Bright Shiny Morning could ever hope to be.

David L. Ulin is book editor of the Los Angeles Times.

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