John Murray, £14.99 (4CDs)
Audiobook of the Week: Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, read by Trevor White and Lorelei King
Sunday 24 August 2008
There are those who maintain that Americans don't understand irony. James Frey (inset) does, or he couldn't have given this book such an optimistic title. It is the second-grimmest book about America of recent years: the first was his widely-acclaimed so-called memoir, A Million Little Pieces, which proved to be largely invented and caused a furore. Eventually, people who bought it were offered their money back: some took up the offer.
This one is described as a novel, but hey, back comes the irony. Frey's dark fiction is interspersed with bald "facts" about the history of Los Angeles. Some of them are true: all are read in an uncharacteristic, deliberate monotone by Lorelei King. They come as a relief from the meat of the matter, which consists of many harrowing stories. Some are the merest fragments – doomed or murderous characters looming up only to drift into the murky and terrifying unknown. Others linger long enough to engage the listener, even to allow for a little hope that something marvellous might happen. But Frey is not like that. Very nearly everything he touches ends in tears, or blood, or worse.
Trevor White reads with a steady, mesmerising reliability, somehow managing to make bearable the savage, cruel, misanthropic brilliance of the writing. Just as Goya used broad, black brush-strokes to depict the horrors of war, so Frey paints Los Angeles as Gehenna, the final destination of an incorrigibly decadent and self-destructive race.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained star's white boyfriend Brian Lucas confirms LAPD internally investigating 'racist' detainment
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
- 5 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time: 'That was the lowest I'd ever felt'
Robin Thicke admits he did not write 'Blurred Lines'
Colin Firth and Emma Stone on starring in Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's 1920s romance
Doctor Who series 8: Time Heist pictures revealed ahead of episode 5
Pharrell Williams says 'Blurred Lines' criticism is 'out of context'
The Walking Dead season 5 air date, trailer and season 4 recap
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes