Bright Shiny Morning, By James Frey

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The Independent Culture

"Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable", reads the epigraph to this novel by James Frey, the author of the controversial memoir A Million Little Pieces, which was revealed to be partly fictional. Bright Shiny Morning is written with a similar urgency of prose as that book, and pays little heed to conventional syntax, thus creating a beguiling momentum of its own, propelled by raw emotion and energy.

The narrative is peopled with a motley assortment of lost souls who drift west to California in hope of being found. There is a young couple living in an eastern town "nowhere anywhere everywhere, a small American town full of alcohol, abuse and religion". There is Old Man Joe, whose hair turns white overnight and who sleeps in a toilet in an alley at the back of a taco stand and waits for Los Angeles to supply him with answers. The bizarreness of their quotidian lives endows a rich imagery and this compulsive novel is testament that good fiction can reveal powerful emotional truths.

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