Author James Frey—who was at the center of a scandal in 2006 when it was revealed that portions of his supposed memoir, A Million Little Pieces, had been fabricated—has returned with a novel, Bright Shiny Morning, which was released by HarperCollins on Tuesday.
What the commentators said
James Frey was given “another chance” and “look what he did with it,” said Janet Maslin in The New York Times. “He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park. No more lying, no more melodrama, still run-on sentences still funny punctuation but so what.” During the time since A Million Little Pieces, he’s become “a furiously good storyteller.”
“Bright Shiny Morning is a terrible book,” said David L. Ulin in the Los Angeles Times. “One of the worst I’ve ever read.” But HarperCollins “reportedly paid a million and a half dollars for it,” so they obviously expect it to do well. This could be seen as either “a shrewd business decision,” or “as yet another symbol of a book industry in crisis, with publishers grasping at whatever straws they can to manufacture buzz.”
“I’m not going to get between you and James Frey,” said Lev Grossman in Time.com. “Yes, he violated the unwritten contract between writer and reader,” so I understand why people are still mad at him—I just was never “that invested.” But “if you’re thinking of not buying” Frey’s new book because of his “past misdeeds, you might want to look for some other way of getting back at him, because it’s a pretty good read.”
You do have to give Frey “some credit,” said Malcolm Jones in Newsweek. “If you had been humiliated by Oprah Winfrey on television in front of who-knows-how-many-million viewers, you might still be hiding under the bed.” But as far as his new book is concerned, don’t bother—it’s “no good.”