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07 June 2009 @ 09:06 pm
Bright Shiny Morning, James Frey

This was probably the most enjoyable book I've read since For Whom the Bell Tolls. However, it's not the best book I've read this year, if you see what I mean.

Yes, some of it was deeply, deeply moving. My favourite story was the one about Barry and Putt Putt Bonanza. It was just so gosh-darned SAD. I quite liked Esperanza's story, too, although I'd personally be way more worried about the mental health of someone who takes to their bed for months at a time. At the very least, she needed some medication.

But the three other main stories - Amberton, Joe and Dylan&Maddie - all left me cold. That's probably because I had a quibble with a pivotal plot point in all their narratives.

Amberton - if he's seriously sexually harassed THAT MANY GUYS, it would have come out by now. It just would have. This is the Internet Age, and no secret is secret for long - especially when speculation is rife about everyone from George Clooney to the presumably happily-married Kris Allen.

Also, the whole idea of 'people go to a movie for us' bugged me. Because I have never in my life gone to see a movie I thought would be subpar, or irrelevant to my interests, just because some poncy actor was in it. That hot or good actors are in a number of my favourite films is a bonus, but one I can live without. Am I alone here? Or is this just another Hollywood delusion?

Joe - he went majorly grief-stricken about Lemonade, beat his chest in churches and so on, but ... up to the point where Lemonade was needed for Joe to DO all this, he never makes an appearance. Cannon-fodder characters? DNW.

(Plus, seriously, who gets addicted to Chablis?)

Dylan&Maddie - clearly this needed to be the big sucker-punch sob story, but. Dylan came off as a sensible guy all the way through; there was a huge gaping plot hole where he would steal from the bike gang right after he'd seen what they did to each other PLUS his general level-headedness. But, you know, die he must and did.

That all being said, this book haunted me. The people who live in the trailer parks. The spiel about how LA is the only place where art lives. The ten-year old gang member. The bit about Perez Hilton, which makes me wonder how much else Frey knows, and who else the various characters are based on.

The average gang member makes less money each year than the average cashier at the average fast-foot restaurant.

In 1886, the official slogan of the Los Angeles Travel Bureau was - Los Angeles is the Chicago of California!

Now that just WINS.

Previously, on Book Glomp 2009:
He Knew He Was Right, Anthony Trollope
The Bostonians, Henry James
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
For Esme - with Love and Squalor, JD Salinger
The Outsider, Albert Camus
The Princess Diaries: Ten out of Ten, Meg Cabot
The Vicar of Bullhampton, Anthony Trollope
Molesworth, Geoffrey Willans
Villette, Charlotte Bronte
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler
Cecilia, Fanny Burney
The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
The White Tiger, Aravind Adiga
The Duke and I, Julia Quinn
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell
Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
Neeryneery on June 7th, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
My mom frequently goes to movies for the actors, and mostly talks about movies in terms of "That Dustin Hoffman movie" or "You know, the one where Julia Roberts plays a waitress?" as if the actors were a majorly important part of the plot. I don't get it, personally.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Pretty facescoradh on June 7th, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
Well, at least it's not just a crazy thought in my head. Clearly Frey is on to something...
real men love discotakkatakkatakka on June 7th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
You read it! :) *Responds to each of your thoughts.*

In Esperanza's story - when the guy (I suck at remembering names) says he thinks her thighs rock, I did tear up a bit. Such a quietly wonderful moment. I think it was important to have one of the stories centric on a Mexican, as well.

Yeah, I did have a problem with Amberton's story, his ability to cover all of that up. I also thought that Frey kind of laid stuff out but didn't really go anywhere with it, like the stalking of thingy's (I forgot his ~boyfriend's name too, sorry) mother and the hiring the guy to shoot him in the kneecaps and stuff. That didn't amount to what I thought it would. I also thought the transition between Amberton and this guy having an odd sex thing and Amberton actually harrassing him wasn't subtle enough, and lacked conviction. I did like it though, despite that, especially watching Amberton slowly go insane. Or more insane, anyway.

I loved Old Man Joe's rant in the church. I'm sorry, but I did. I agree that his dedication to Lemonade was, yeah, a little too much for how small a character he was, but death can bring you closer to a person, so maybe that's what Frey was going for.

Dylan and Maddie's ending was good, but kind of expected. It was predictable, but I would have felt more cheated if there had been a happy ending. What I liked about their story, that I remember, was the social inequalities highlighted when Dylan goes to work at the golf place. Not very subtle, but poignant all the same.

I adored the lists; detailing the different highways, areas, the growth of the city, different gang members. It's the sort of thing you'd expect to be tedious, but.

I'm glad you read it and ~mostly liked it.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: bbb ryanscoradh on June 14th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Amberton's story was really two stories - a trad repressed gay story, and a more modern gay-in-love story. I think it was like two trains crashing when he tried to bring them together, though.

The rant was a good rant! It was just a bit ... pastede on yay.

I kept thinking Dylan wasn't going to even get that job. :D

I actually really liked it! No book is going to be 100% brilliant, after all. And I have LA in my head as a sort of Mecca, so I REALLY liked the part where the anonymous person talks about how it's the hub of the arts. Thanks very much for the rec! (And I'm sooooooo sorry about the late reply.)