James Frey, the most famous memoirist shredded by Oprah on television, has returned to the publishing world with a novel this time, Bright Shining Morning.
I've read two reviews in favour of the novel. One from Time, the other from the Times. In the latter, Janet Maslin writes in Frey's style, concluding:
Aside from picking up good reviews, Frey is also contributing to Omnivoracious this month. Though his posts, short and lacking the substance one might hope from a writer who became America's most notorious for a time, leave a bit to be desired.
So the Bright Shiny Morning guy did it differently. He let the little vignette play out against a big, gaudy, dangerous Southern California backdrop, full of drug-dealing gang-bangers, full of schemers, phonies, rich with a history of robber barons, all of it listed here, all of it stacking the deck against any generosity of spirit. The son steals the maid's virtue? Been there, read that. They plot against the old lady? Been there too. This novelist wanted something else for Esperanza: he wanted to honor her, fall in love with her, do it with startling sincerity. He wanted to save her.
And it worked.
That's how James Frey saved himself.
Of course, me criticizing Frey for lacking substance in blog posts is like the Toronto Star calling the New York Times increasingly irrelevant. But that would never happen.