Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The power of redemption

Do you believe in second chances? James Frey probably hopes you do.

Perhaps best known for the controversy surrounding A Million Little Pieces, Freys back with a new novel, Bright Shiny Morning.

Without dredging up the past or my opinions about Frey, I will say I think our society has a dangerous habit of hyping up people and making them into stars and then delights in completely demolishing them. Look at Frey, one minute he’s on Oprah, hundreds are reading his book, flash forward he’s eating crow on Oprah.

That said, I couldn’t bring myself to read my copy of A Million Little Pieces. To me I didn’t see the point of reading something that I knew wasn’t the real thing. And I think the criticism he faced was legitimate.

With his new novel, Frey is now back in the limelight. He recently guest blogged over at Amazon’s Omnivoracious.

Amazon also included some reviews of Frey’s book in their regular feature: Old Media Monday: Reviewing the Reviewers:

(New York Times Janet) Maslin on Bright Shiny Morning by one of our other guests this week, James Frey: "The million little pieces guy was called James Frey. He got a second act. He got another chance. Look what he did with it. 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. He became a furiously good storyteller this time."

(Los Angeles Time’s) David L. Ulin on Frey's Bright Shiny Morning: "'Bright Shiny Morning' is a terrible book. One of the worst I've ever read. But you have to give James Frey credit for one thing: He's got chutzpah.... 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."

The Boston Globe’s book blog, Off the Shelf also weighs in, “The Power of Redemption.”

I feel like Off the Shelf makes some good points. While I believe everyone deserves a second chance, there are so many amazing authors and books I want to read, I would say Frey’s pretty low on my list.

Additional Reading:

Reviews mixed on new James Frey fiction,

James Frey emerges, with a novel about LA,

James Frey's 'Bright Shiny Morning': the reaction,

Disgraced author James Frey rebounds with messy 'Morning',

(The above image originally appeared on

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