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Review of James Frey & Black Tide @ The Whisky

from the Los Angeles Times

This article isn’t entirely complete – “Good behavior prevailed, discounting a little mosh pit action that briefly tore into a pair of tables near the stage,” yet there was indeed a huge brawl on the floor of the Whisky about two minutes into Black Tide’s second set. It took four bouncers all 225+ nearly 5 minutes to get a 5’6″ tweaker out the door, then the brawl continued on the sidewalk outside for another five minutes when the tweaker’s tweaking foe followed him out the do’. Finally, a couple WeHo Sheriff’s Deputies rolled up on their bicycles, pulled the cuffs off their little black shorts and put the whole matter to rest. (NOTE: Dear Bill – we couldn’t find an arrest report to link for this – can you troll one for us. Thanks, man.) Other than that, the crowd was in fact exceptional especially the Black Tide posse, altho the author/photog here does forget to mention about how he almost got into a throwdown himself with Black Tide’s drummer Steven Spence out on the Strip before the gig began. We won’t mention it either. As Producer of the event, Eric Hanson of TreeLAWN Artists opined after the action, “Hey – it’s just another book reading, right.” – Editor

The band, the bodyguards: the James Frey show

James Frey reads with Black Tide providing acoustics @ The Whisky A Go-Go LA

There were no Hells Angels at the Whisky a Go-Go on Thursday night, although a ripple of curiosity was circulating among the people waiting in line along Sunset Boulevard.

Would James Frey, whose newest offering is “Bright Shiny Morning,” a novel set in Los Angeles, have the kind of bad karma on the West Coast the Rolling Stones had at Altamont when they used the motorcycle gang for security at the Bay Area speedway in 1969, which resulted in the death of one man and the symbolic death knell of the ’60s?

Not at all.

Good behavior prevailed, discounting a little mosh pit action that briefly tore into a pair of tables near the stage. Frey’s self-proclaimed “Rock-and-Roll Book Tour” attracted not only the usual crowd of well-read graduates, but also a heady throng of about 100 high school kids who’d come just to see a popular band playing for free. 

And what a band it was. Black Tide was its name, and the combined age of its four members couldn’t be more than 70. They played double bass-pedaled, flying V headbanger paeans. Their fans pumped their fists and shook their heads and managed to displace a handful of worried adults, most of them wearing glasses and clutching books. 

How does one follow a set like that? With a book reading?

More ….

James Frey reads with Terry Richardson shining eyecandy @ The Whisky A Go-Go LA

Frey took the stage with two bodyguards, entering down the stage-left stairs past a sign that read, “If you stage dive you go home.” He wore a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap, a gray T-shirt and khaki slacks. In the thick of fog machine smoke, under the mechanized lights, he sat down on a stool and spoke into the microphone.

Then Frey asked whether anyone in the audience had a copy “I can borrow?”

He read breathlessly from a borrowed book while the band settled into a low, menacing rhythm. Behind them, images by celebrity and fashion photographer Terry Richardson flashed on a screen: tattooed women holding pistols, beds of golden ammunition, profanity-laden signage, headshots of young toughs whose business it was, no doubt, to be simply that. 

Frey read about “a man who hates everything and everybody,” about “Rickie, who hasn’t had a job in four years.” About “the ways and means of obtaining semiautomatic and full automatic machine guns.”

There was a panorama of character names and quick details of the blink-and-you’ll miss them variety:

“He held a gun to her head and made her drive to the hills in Malibu.”
“She didn’t tell her parents or her co-workers, and she stayed at home and cried in bed for two weeks.”

When Frey finished — after about 10 minutes — he took rapid-fire questions, in the manner of someone who’s figured the attention span of his audience to be momentary.

Q: “What was your favorite book to write?”
A: “This one.”

Q: “Who’s your favorite band?”
A: “Black Tide.”

Q: “Why do you live in New York?”
A: “My wife. If it were up to me, we’d live here.”

Perhaps the best question was from a gangly Latino in a Motley Crue T-shirt: “Who are you?”

It was certainly rhetorical, and the author did not answer. 

Frey then began signing autographs. Tucked into a booth, a bodyguard beside him, Frey looked serious and workmanlike. He should have been. After all, he had a limited amount of time. A long line of adults waited to collect his autograph, but up front the kids were getting restless. Black Tide was coming back to play a second set. 

–George Ducker

(Photos of James Frey at the Whisky by George Ducker)

[ click to read article at ]

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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BLACK TIDE’s Flawless Debut Album

Unreal. The best new rock ‘n roll since Axl and The Boys – purchase the CD now or download from iTunes.

click to buy BLACK TIDE's Light From Above 

Check out Black Tide’s performance on Jimmy Kimmel for a taster…

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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Los Angeles Mayor Urging Citizens To Drink From Their Toilets

from the New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Faced with a persistent drought and the threat of tighter water supplies, Los Angeles plans to begin using heavily cleansed sewage to increase drinking water supplies, joining a growing number of cities considering similar measures.

The Mayor's distant nephew drinks from the toilet in a sign of solidarity with his constituentsMayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, who opposed such a plan a decade ago over safety concerns, announced the proposal on Thursday as part of a package of initiatives to put the city, the nation’s second largest, on a stricter water budget. The other plans include increasing fines for watering lawns during restricted times, tapping into and cleaning more groundwater, and encouraging businesses and residents to use more efficient sprinklers and plumbing fixtures.

The move comes as California braces for the possibility of the most severe water shortages in decades.

Snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, which supplies about a third of Los Angeles’s water, is short of expectations. At the same time, the Western drought has lowered supplies in reservoirs, while legal rulings to protect endangered species will curtail water deliveries from Northern California.

Worsening the problem, Los Angeles is expected to add 500,000 people by 2030, forcing the city to examine new ways to meet demand. One option off the table, Mr. Villaraigosa said, is a repeat of the city’s troubled history, fictionalized in the movie “Chinatown,” of diverting a distant river southward to slake the city’s thirst.

The city, pushed by legal claims, is already paying millions to restore dried-up portions of the river, the Owens.

“There simply are no more holes or straws to pitch,” Mr. Villaraigosa said at a news conference at a water plant.

Many cities and towns across the country, including Los Angeles, already recycle wastewater for industrial uses and landscaping.

But the idea of using recycled wastewater, after intense filtering and chemical treatment, to replenish aquifers and reservoirs has gotten more notice lately because of technological advances that, industry leaders say, can make the water purer than tap water.

[ click to read full article in the NY Times ]

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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Oprah’s Dead Dogs Commemorated in Gilt

from the NY Daily News

A statue of Oprah Winfrey and her dead dogs will be unveiled May 22 in New York by Daniel Edwards. The pop artist has unveiled a series of controversial works in the last few years. 

 Oprah and her dead dogs

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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Art Has Purpose, Yet Exhibiting It Does Not?

from The Spectator

Exhibition Suspicion


Martin Gayford questions the point of art shows. Should they educate or give pleasure — or both?

Towards the end of June, 1814, Maria Bicknell, the wife-to-be of the painter John Constable, went to an exhibition at the British Institute on Pall Mall. It was the second retrospective exhibition ever held in London. The first, the previous year, was devoted to the work of Joshua Reynolds and had been so popular that special evening viewings by candlelight were announced. The same was done in 1814 for the follow-up, a joint show of work by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Richard Wilson.

Time Smoking A Pipe by William HogarthMaria managed to get a ticket for one of the candlelit evening sessions, only to be disappointed. ‘I prefer it infinitely by day,’ she wrote to Constable; ‘it was crowded to excess, certainly a very fine place to see, and be seen.’ So only two years into the history of blockbusters, their main drawback had become apparent: too many other people want to see them; their success is as much social as artistic.

What is the point of exhibitions? As a critic, one spends most of one’s time reviewing them, and yet there is no real agreement as to what their function is. According to Nicholas Penny, the new director of the National Gallery, the point of exhibitions is to teach the public, and consequently, as he told Martin Bailey of the Art Newspaper, he does not much like the word ‘blockbuster’, ‘which masks the distinction between entertainment and education’. At the National Gallery, he went on, ‘We are in the education business, and are concerned with quality.’

That, however, sounds a little puritanical. Art, after all, is enjoyable. It can cause pleasure, as well as awe, terror, contemplation, relaxation, horror, rage, pity, laughter and the more inexplicable varieties of visual delight. ‘Education’ and ‘quality’ are pallid words to describe all that. Nor is there any incompatibility between what we find entertaining and what we learn from. Nonetheless, Mr Penny has a point.

[ click to read full piece at The Spectator online ]

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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James Frey In The HOT SEAT

from TimeOut New York


Hot Seat

Time Out New York / Issue 659 : May 14–20, 2008

James Frey

The fabulist author has got friends in low places. Really.

Illustration: Rob Kelly

Other than a recent feature in Vanity Fair, James Frey has kept a low profile since his January 2006 televised smackdown by Oprah Winfrey. That infamous episode came, of course, shortly after a muckraking website found numerous inaccuracies in his best-selling addiction memoir, A Million Little Pieces, and shamed not only Frey but the publishing industry as a whole. This week, the 38-year-old New York resident will face both fans and foes when he sets out on a tour to promote his new book, Bright Shiny Morning—which Frey unequivocally and absolutely promises is complete fiction. 

Time Out New York: In Vanity Fair, you said you weren’t doing any more press. What gives?

James Frey: There are two answers to that. The first is that I felt more comfortable doing that interview than I expected to. And second, my publisher asked me to do more press, and it’s my job to do what my publisher asks me to do.

TONY: Are you nervous about reading in public?

James Frey: Of course I’m nervous. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. I’m sure there’ll be some people there who want to yell at me.

TONY: There could be a riot.

James Frey: Well, I hope there’s no riot. But if there is, at least I know I’ll be safe.

TONY: Right. You hired the Hells Angels to handle security on the book tour.

James Frey: Yes. At some of the venues.

TONY: Do you really need security?

James Frey: We don’t know. I do get pretty harsh hate mail.

TONY: Like what?

James Frey: Some guy sent me a letter saying he hoped I got ass cancer and died in front of my wife and kid. I got another that said, “I want to cut your head off and shit down your neck.”

TONY: Wow, maybe you do need security. It would suck to be decapitated and then used as a toilet.

James Frey: Yeah. Obviously I hope that never happens. It would be pretty unpleasant. Although once my head came off, I guess I wouldn’t have to deal with any of the rest of it.

TONY: Why the Hells Angels?

James Frey: I wrote a movie about the Hells Angels for Tony Scott. I spent time with them. They’re fun guys to hang out with. Frankly, they’re very intimidating. I feel very safe around them.

TONY: They’ve given you a nickname, haven’t they?

James Frey: They haven’t given me a nickname.

TONY: Come on! Not Chuckles? They don’t call you Chuckles Frey?

James Frey: No. But if they start calling me that I’ll let you know.

TONY: Do the Hells Angels know that you wrote a movie in 1998 named after a George Michael song?

James Frey: What, Kissing a Fool? I don’t know. That hasn’t ever come up.

TONY: Maybe it shouldn’t. Will Father Figure be your next novel, then?

James Frey: Yeah. Or maybe Patience. In big capital letters.

TONY: Do you have any other embarrassing musical influences?

James Frey: New Edition. “Popcorn Love” and “Candy Girl” are classic songs from my childhood. Occasionally in the car I listen to channel 3 on Sirius Radio, which is love songs.

TONY: Really? You strike me as a Hootie and the Blowfish kind of guy.

James Frey: I saw Hootie once at the Wetlands and I gotta say, they actually sorta rocked. And when they played “Hold My Hand,” my fist was in the air.

TONY: Do you feel any vindication that only about 1,600 people actually asked for the refund offered by Random House for A Million Little Pieces?

James Frey: You know, I can’t discuss any of that. I can’t discuss any legal anything.

TONY: Did everybody in your family take their copies back?

James Frey: [Laughs] They might have and didn’t tell me. That’s pretty funny. I’ll call my mom and ask her.

TONY: It seems to me that someone could make a pretty decent living going door to door rounding up copies of your book and returning them.

James Frey: There’s probably much easier and less complicated ways to try to make money. But they probably could.

TONY: So. Oprah. Did you send her a copy of Bright Shiny Morning?

James Frey: I certainly didn’t. I don’t know if my publicist did. I profoundly doubt it.

Bright Shiny Morning (Harper, $27) is out now.

[ click to read column at ]

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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Bloomberg News Review

from Bloomberg News


James Frey’s “Bright Shiny Morning” falls apart

Bloomberg News


“Bright Shiny Morning” by James Frey

Harper, 501 pp., $26.95


A young couple who lift $20,000 from a biker gang. A predatory gay superstar whose latest fixation is a football hero. An adorable Chicana with thighs the size of tree trunks. A homeless wino who wants to save a meth-addled teen.

These are the major characters and plot lines of James Frey’s “Bright Shiny Morning.” Frey is the disgraced author of “A Million Little Pieces,” the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed memoir that turned out to be partly made up.

“Bright Shiny Morning” is a meaty social novel in the Tom Wolfe/Richard Price mold, though Frey’s manic run-on sentences can’t rival theirs in terms of craft. Its subject is Los Angeles from the bottom to the top, and unless you have ice in your veins you’ll find its 501 pages of tiny print compulsively readable. I did. By page 100 I was telling myself, “I love this book!” By page 300 I was restless. By the end I pretty much hated it.

Why? Because Frey doesn’t deliver on the expectations he raises. He doesn’t even seem to know he’s raised them. At first, as you weave among the major stories and the hordes of minor ones, you all but quiver with anticipation: How’s he going to tie this all together? Little by little you deflate as you realize: He’s not.

Nobody in one plot so much as brushes against someone in another plot. The themes in the free-standing essays bear little or no relation to the narrative sections.

Literary insanity?

Only a novelist at the edge of literary sanity would introduce on page 438, at a point when his parallel plots are barreling toward their climax, an 11-page essay on the L.A. art scene (a topic that has zilch to do with the rest of the book). Or follow it with a six-page list of soldiers who have been treated at local VA hospitals, with their maladies (less than zilch).

In general, the essays (on youth gangs, city districts, celebrity train wrecks and so forth) are less insightful than the tales; Frey seems to have a natural grasp of character. But although he’s a gifted storyteller, he has only two modes, saccharine and brutal. He’s also got two modes as an essayist, amazed (ah the depravity/diversity/splendor of L.A.!) and cynical:

“Everybody loves a scandal,” he writes. “Even if you try to turn away, you can’t, when you try to ignore it, you find it impossible. You know why? Because it’s awesome, hilarious, awful … The bigger the better, the uglier the more fun, the more devastation the better you feel.”

Any particular scandal come to mind?

Raw talent

Despite its moronic politics (if you can call them that), in which poor equals virtuous and rich equals bad, “Bright Shiny Morning” looks less like a failure of writing than one of editing. Frey is a prototypical raw talent — a writer who can churn out readable prose by the ream but has no idea how to shape it or imbue it with taste. So he needs a strong editor, and either he didn’t get one or he was too bullheaded to accept the advice he was proffered.

The simplest solution to the book’s structural problems (though probably not the most commercial one) would have been to disentangle the components, slap on a table of contents and sell it as what it is: a compendium of pieces — some long, some short, some fiction, some reflection — about Los Angeles.

A more ambitious possibility (and a bigger chore) would have involved sending Frey back to his desk to finish up the job the way a novelist with any pride in his work is supposed to: by weaving the disparate parts into a coherent whole. Slicing them up and jumbling them, which is all he’s done, doesn’t turn “Bright Shiny Morning” into a novel. It turns it into a mess.

The author of “Bright Shiny Morning” will appear with novelist/memoirist Josh Kilmer-Purcell at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eight Ave. Tickets are $5 — sponsored by Elliott Bay Book Co. (206-624-6600; Frey will also appear at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at a “Words & Wine” event at the W Hotel (info: 206-632-2419;

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

[ click to read review at Bloomberg News ]

Posted on May 17, 2008 by Editor

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Another Emo Tragedy

from the UK Telegraph

Popular schoolgirl dies in ’emo sucide cult’

A popular and fun-loving schoolgirl killed herself after becoming involved in a self-harming youth cult which glamorises death, an inquest has heard.

Hannah Bond

Hannah Bond, 13, hanged herself from a bunk bed in her bedroom with a tie believing her death would impress fellow followers of the “emo” movement, it was said.

The teenager, who left a suicide note and used the nickname “Living Disaster”, committed suicide after flippantly telling her parents, “I want to kill myself”, when she returned late from a friend’s house.

They dismissed the comment and said “don’t be silly” but an hour later found her suspended an inch from the floor.

They dialled 999 and paramedics battled for over an hour to save her but she had lost consciousness and died.

Roger Sykes, the coroner who recorded a verdict of suicide, found aspects of the youth movement, which began in America, “very disturbing”.

He said: “A girl of 13 years old has taken her own life for no reason that by anyone could be found to be justifiable.

“It is a terrible and tragic explanation to what happened. It is not glamorous, just simply a tragic loss of such a young life.”

Maidstone Coroners’ Court heard that Hannah, of East Peckham, Kent, had lived a double life, outwardly a bright fun-loving family-orientated schoolgirl, but inwardly a devotee of “emo” which stands for emotional.

She had secretly chatted to “emo” followers online all over the world, talking about death and the glamorisation of hanging and speaking about “the black parade” – a place where “emos” believe they go after they die.

[ click to read full article at the Telegraph UK ]

Posted on May 16, 2008 by Editor

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TONIGHT: Meet James Frey at Slim’s in San Francisco

Poster for BRIGHT SHINY MORNING San Francisco Event @ Slim’s

Posted on May 16, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Bright Shiny News | | 1 Comment »

USA Today Review

from USAToday

Disgraced author James Frey rebounds with messy ‘Morning’
Updated 5/16/2008By Deirdre Donahue, USA TODAY

jamesfrey-usatoday1.pngGive the bloodied but clearly unbowed James Frey points for unbridled ambition.

His truth-challenged memoir A Million Little Pieces may have put Oprah’s knickers in a televised twist, but Frey’s new novel, Bright Shiny Morning,reveals a massive literary ego in full, flourishing bloom.

MORE: James Frey takes a novel approach with ‘Morning’ 

Unfettered by traditional grammar, punctuation or even paragraphs, Frey has pounded out a novel that tries to rip open the raw underbelly of modern Los Angeles. His goal: to reveal the booze-soaked, drug-crazed, porn-addicted Sodom with all its corruption, cruelty and occasional moments of transcendent beauty.

Bright Shiny Morning teems with dozens of characters. Maybe hundreds. Some appear briefly, others stay for the whole book. The central ones: a psycho male movie star, a saintly Hispanic domestic, two Midwestern teens and an alcoholic bum.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Hispanic | Midwestern | Oprah |Oliver Stone | Quentin Tarantino | James Frey | A Million Little Pieces | John Steinbeck | Sodom | Bright Shiny Morning

Alas, Frey is no John Steinbeck or Dos Passos. Morning is a gusher, too often spouting bad prose, predictable plot turns, and one-dimensional characters (the poor ones are good, the rich one evil).

There’s also constant bad behavior: booze, abuse, crime, murder. Frey also tosses in a celebration of young love that would do a romance writer proud. By the end, Morning reads like a saccharine-sweet Hallmark Special that Oliver Stone wrote and Quentin Tarantino directed.

Frey also includes a tsunami of historical trivia about the city: gang names, riots, highways, movie trivia, floods. Which is kind of neat.

Bottom line: If, despite the scandal, you loved Million Little Pieces, you might want to devour Bright Shiny Morning. Like its author, it can be called many things, but never boring. Or timid.

click to read at USAToday ]

Posted on May 16, 2008 by Editor

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Thai-boxing Transvestite Sleuths Prophet Murder

from the Guardian UK

Different beats

Chris Wiegand talks to the creators of two very dissimilar detectives, both at work in Istanbul’s meanest streets 

Listen to Mehmet Murat Somer read from The Prophet Murders

Barbara Nadel (left) and Mehmet Murat Somer

Alternative Istanbuls … Barbara Nadel (left) and Mehmet Murat Somer

Crime fiction aficionados know Istanbul as the beat of Cetin Ikmen, the shabby, middle-aged Turkish cop created by English novelist Barbara Nadel. A former actress who lives in the Pennines and was raised in London’s East End, her heart clearly belongs to the city split by the Bosphorus. She has now plotted 10 cases for the intrepid Ikmen, said to be “the city’s, if not the nation’s, most famous police officer”.

But there’s a new investigator in town. Serpent’s Tail has just published an English-language translation of The Prophet Murders, the first installment of a whip-smart Istanbul crime series by Turkish author Mehmet Murat Somer. Somer’s hero isn’t a police officer but an amateur sleuth – and a catsuit-clad, Thai-boxing transvestite. If Ikmen shuffles and wheezes his way down Istanbul’s mean streets, then Somer’s effervescent hero sashays and shimmies around town. The characters couldn’t be more different, but they’re intriguingly drawn to investigate similar cases. The Prophet Murders recalls Nadel’s ninth Ikmen novel, A Passion for Killing, as both explore the deaths of homosexuals who appear to be the victims of a fanatical peeper on a moral crusade.

I arranged to meet Somer in Istanbul, and before travelling I called Nadel to ask her what the city offers crime writers. “Loads of history and an extremely diverse and huge population,” is her immediate answer, before she lets out a dark laugh: “And there are lots of places to hide the bodies.”

[ click to read full review in Guardian UK ]

Posted on May 15, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Literary News | | 1 Comment »

Review of James Frey Reading Event @ The Blender Theatre NYC

from the AP via Yahoo News

James Frey returns — this time, with a novel

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National WriterWed May 14, 4:05 PM ET

The sign in the lobby of the Blender Theater, where James Frey is opening his once-unthinkable book tour, reads “NO RE-ENTRY. All exits are final.”

James Frey at the Blender - AP photoFor the author of “A Million Little Pieces,” that’s simply another story in need of a disclaimer.

Two years after his addiction memoir was exposed as substantially fabricated and the author sent to a real-life version of a remainder bin, Frey is back in stores, and back on stage. He has written a novel, “Bright Shiny Morning,” released by a major publisher (HarperCollins), represented by a respected agent (Eric Simonoff), praised highly by The New York Times and in the top 20 on and

His comeback may be proof that publishing is helplessly naive, nobly forgiving or desperate for attention. But for now his name shines on Internet best-seller lists and in big black letters on the marquee of the Blender, where hundreds cheered for him Tuesday night.

“I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d see me again,” the bearded, dark-eyed Frey, seated on a stool under a white spotlight, told the audience.

The evening was an 80-minute, multimedia variety show with Frey as the finale. He read a passage about a gun dealer who despises equally all races and creeds, speaking to the heartbeat-rhythms of a jazz pianist as a slideshow of firearms flashed behind him.

“I’ve never had an author reading here before,” says Blender general manager Jorelle Aronovitch, who usually books musical acts. “But I saw this as a chance to expand our audience and some of the people who come here are the kind of people who would like him. He’s quite a showman.”

Earlier that day, Frey, a 38-year-old Cleveland native and New York City resident, was interviewed by The Associated Press, wearing the same leisure clothes he had on stage: gray sweater, green khakis and sneakers. Broad-shouldered and solidly built, he is seated at a small table in the downstairs bar of the Blender. Classic rock (“Proud Mary,” “Come Together”) plays softly but distinctly on the sound system. Frey asks that it be turned off.

He is friendly, self-effacing and careful. Citing a confidentiality agreement with the publisher of “Million Little Pieces,” he declines to answer several questions about the book and about memoirs in general. Asked if he thinks memoirs should be fact-checked, he laughs and shakes his head: “I’m not going to go near that.”

“Bright Shiny Morning” is a 500-page, panoramic take on Los Angeles, written in the profane, hard-boiled, semi-grammatical prose of “Million Little Pieces.” It has a first printing of 350,000 and critics on opposite ends of the country debating whether the novel is genius or junk.

David A. Ulin of The Los Angeles Times called it “a terrible book. One of the worst I’ve ever read.” Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Frey as a “furiously good storyteller” and likened the book to the fabled return of a disgraced athlete: “He stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park.”

Frey’s reaction to his downfall has alternated between defiance and shame. He has vowed never to speak to the press, but continues to do so (out of courtesy to his publisher, he says). He has complained that he was subject to undue scrutiny, that memoirs have traditionally been unreliable.

Today, he blames only himself.

“I don’t think of myself as a victim of anything,” he says. “I made some big mistakes and I know that. I’ve apologized for it, and I’ve tried to do my best to learn from it and move on from it.”

Asked to cite his biggest mistake, Frey says, “Misrepresenting myself, misrepresenting the events of my life.” He calls the past two years “profoundly humbling,” but his ambitions remain high.

“I want to write books that change people’s lives,” he says, “change the way they read and write and think and feel, and hopefully change them for the better in some way.”

“A Million Little Pieces” was a best-seller when first published, then a sensation two years later after Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club. Frey has said he first wrote it as a novel and was turned down 17 times, until Doubleday Books suggested it be released as a memoir. Frey’s publisher at the time, Nan Talese, remembers it differently.

“It was originally submitted to me as nonfiction and I never thought of it as anything but,” she told the AP, adding that his then-agent, Kassie Evashevski, and then-editor, Sean McDonald, agreed. “James and I talked about this in the last two weeks and he said from the start he thought of it as a novel — and it is impossible to refute his idea of it.”

Doubts were raised early about the book, but Frey repeatedly, insistently said it was true, even to Winfrey. But in January 2006, the investigative Web site The Smoking Gun released a long expose that revealed numerous fabrications, notably that Frey had never served four months in jail. As the public and Winfrey turned against him, he confessed. Readers sued him for fraud. Frey was dropped by his agent and by the publisher that was to have released “Bright Shiny Morning,” Riverhead Books.

He was seemingly finished.


Even discredited, the book sold, 1,000 or more copies a week. A court agreement that offered refunds for unhappy customers led to less than 2,000 requests. One fan at the Blender Theater, 20-year-old Sarah Koenig-Plonskier, said she had read “A Million Little Pieces” at least 20 times.

“At first I was upset when he heard that he made things up, but when I went back and read the book again, I still had the same feelings. The book touched me deep in my soul,” she says.

Meanwhile, Frey had befriended HarperCollins publisher Jonathan Burnham after meeting him at a party and also got to know literary agent Eric Simonoff, who “liked him enormously when I met him in January 2007 but told him it would all depend on the book.”

“Then I read `Bright Shiny Morning’ and simply loved it,” recalls Simonoff, whose other clients include the Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writers Edward P. Jones and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Frey says he plans to write another novel, about a Jewish man who has an accident and becomes convinced he’s the Messiah. Married, with a 3-year-old daughter, he says he enjoys hanging out with people of all kinds, whether the Hell’s Angels providing security for his tour or members of the art community, where the lines between right and wrong helpfully blur.

“The art world is a place that’s always looking forward, always seeking out new ways to create work and present work,” he says. “There are no rules in the art world. Whatever you do is acceptable. There are many more rules one has to follow in publishing.” 

[ click to read AP article at Yahoo News ]

Posted on May 15, 2008 by Editor

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Bacon Brings Most Pork Ever at Auction

from the New York Times

Bacon Triptych Auctioned for Record $86 Million

A 1976 triptych by Francis Bacon brought $86.3 million on Wednesday night at Sotheby’s, becoming the most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction and a retort to doomsayers who had predicted that the art market would falter seriously this season because of broad economic anxieties.

“Recession? What recession?” Barbara Gladstone, a Chelsea dealer, said jokingly as she was leaving the salesroom.

Sotheby’s/Associated Press

Although the sale had top-quality art and dealers predicted it would be a success, it went well beyond even the auction house’s expectations, bringing in $362 million, above the sale’s high $356 million estimate. Only 10 of the 83 works failed to sell, and 18 artist records were set for names ranging from Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni to Tom Wesselmann and Takashi Murakami.

By far the most exciting moment of the evening was when “Triptych,” Mr. Bacon’s comment on his own angst — a vast (each of the three panels measures about 6 ½ feet by 5 feet) and densely painted allegorical painting came up for sale. Three telephone bidders went for the painting, which was being sold by the Moueix family, producers of Château Pétrus wines. Hailing the painting as “a landmark of the 20th-century canon,” Sotheby’s had estimated it would sell for $70 million.

Three works by the art world titan Robert Rauschenberg were on offer Wednesday night, and his death this week at 82 prompted avid speculation on how they would fare. Historically, auction prices tend to dip immediately after an artist dies in anticipation that long-withheld works will flood the market.

But “Overdrive,” a 1963 silkscreen collage incorporating images of a bird, a stop sign, a one-way street sign and other objects, made yet another record price, bringing $14.6 million. Sotheby’s had thought it would make $10 million to $15 million.

Peter Brant, the newsprint magnate was a big seller last night. One of Richard Prince’s early supporters he was parting with “Millionaire Nurse,” from 2002. one of the artist’s paintings inspired by the covers of erotic pulp fiction from the 1940s. In this painting, his nurse is wearing a white surgical mask. While it had been estimated to sell for $3.5 million to $4.5 million, five bidders went for the work which ended up selling for $4.2 million or $4.7 million including Sotheby’s fees. (On Tuesday night, Christie’s auctioned a Prince nurse painting from the same year for a record $7.3 million.) Even more subtle canvases had their appeal. “Achrome,” a sensual, layered white canvas by Piero Manzoni, also brought a record price. Franck Giraud, Mr. Ségalot’s partner, beat out five bidders to buy the painting for $10.1 million, well above its $6.5 million estimate.

After the sale, as the crowds were milling around talking about the evening, everyone seemed stunned by the large sums of money that were spent. “I don’t understand why it did so well if the economy was mediocre,” said Mr. Mugrabi. “Maybe people feel safer with art.”

[ click to read full piece at the NY Times ]

Posted on May 15, 2008 by Editor

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TONIGHT: Meet James Frey at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles

This is a joint appearance with the magnificent Josh Kilmer-Purcell, reading from his new novel “CANDY EVERYBODY WANTS“, plus co-author of WIVES WHEELS WEAPONS Terry Richardson providing eyebliss and Black Tide the score.

Bring a date. No shoes. No Shirt. No problem. (That’s a joke. Or maybe not. Ask the Whisky)

James Frey and Josh Kilmer-Purcell at the Whisky A Go-Go May 15 

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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“You need a Lime Disk in here, or Febreze”

from the Chicago Sun-Times

Urine smell in room during jury selection

In between questioning sessions for potential jurors this morning, assistant state’s attorney Robert Heilingoetter complained about an unpleasant smell coming from the adjoining men’s room.

R. Kelly Mannequin

“You need a lime disk in there … or Febreze,” Heilingoetter said.

People on the east side of the room, including the judge, didn’t smell anything. But people on the west side of the room, where Kelly is sitting, could. Defense lawyer Marc Martin said it smelled like … a word that rhymes with ‘kiss.’

Judge Gaughan asked the sheriff’s deputies to handle it, and a few moments later one returned with a can of Lysol and sprayed.

Meanwhile, potential jurors are being asked if they would be put off by video images of urination that appear in the videotape for which Kelly faces criminal charges.

[ click to read the Kelly Chronicles at Chicago Sun-Times ]

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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Latest Japanese Chibusa Apparatus Supports Saving Planet (With No Pinching Or Unsightly Bulges)

from the NY Daily News

Women – and their gadgets – get charge out of Japanese wonder-bra

Wednesday, May 14th 2008

Green esteem and self esteem are both being given a boost thanks to a Japanese lingerie maker’s newest environmentally friendly bra.

This eco-friendly Japanese bra gives new meaning to the term 'cup-size' - besides charging a cell phone, it's equipped with resuable drink holders. Junko Kimura/Getty ImagesThe “Photovoltaci-Powered Bra” features a solar panel worn around the woman’s stomach that can generate enough electricity to charge a mobile phone or an iPod with light exposure.

As an added feature, a pair of reusable drink containers give new meaning to the term “cup Size.” The drinking cups are attached to the bra cups in an effort to reduce consumption of aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Another bonus: Models say the cup attachments make their breasts look larger.

Because it uses solar power, the bra is meant to be worn as a top, making it trendworthy on both the eco-friendly and the lingerie-as-outerwear fronts.

A spokeswoman for the bra’s maker,Triumph International Japan Ltd., said she hopes to send a message that lingerie can save the planet. Eco-friendly products are gaining popularity in Japan, and the solar energy bra is just the latest installment in the company’s line of sustainable undies.

Other “green” concept bras include one with a reusable shopping bag folded conveniently inside, and a “my chopsticks” bra that holds a handy set of reusable, collapsible chopsticks that can be tucked in either side.

[ from the NY Daily News ]

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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Artist Lucian Freud Benefits Porcine Payday @ Christie’s

from the AP via Yahoo News

Art: Fat woman nude breaks auction record, sells for $33M in New York

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 3:21 PM

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

La maja gorda: ‘Benefits supervisor sleeping’ on display at Christie’s before its sale.

Christie’s auction house spokeswoman says a painting by British artist Lucian Freud has broken a global record for living artists by fetching more than $33 million at a New York sale.

Spokeswoman Sara Fox says an anonymous buyer won Tuesday’s bidding for Freud’s “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.” The life-size 1995 portrait depicts a nude woman sleeping on a worn-out sofa.

At more than $33.6 million, the price easily topped the $23.6 million record for living artists. It was set in November by Jeff Koons‘ “Hanging Heart” sculpture.

The 85-year-old Freud is the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Tuesday’s sale also included “Studies for Self Portrait,” by British artist Francis Bacon. Fox says it sold for more than $28 million.

[ click to read AP article at Yahoo News ]

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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Associated Press Review

from AP via the San Francisco Chronicle

James Frey emerges, with a novel about LA

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

(05-14) 13:06 PDT , (AP) —

“Bright Shiny Morning” (HarperCollins, 501 pages, $26.95) by James Frey: In this age of controversial pseudo-memoirs, James Frey, the man who started it all, leaves his past behind and tackles Los Angeles in his new novel.

With a nod to the massive problems caused by his highly fictionalized memoir, “A Million Little Pieces,” Frey begins with the disclaimer that “Nothing in this book should be considered accurate or reliable.” Yet “Bright Shiny Morning,” with its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to the past, present and future of Los Angeles, may be his most truthful book yet.

Like the city itself, “Bright Shiny Morning” is sprawling and disjointed. So we don’t accuse him of forgetting something, Frey saturates the pages, beginning each chapter with a history lesson and including characters ranging from an oversexed child star to drug-dealing bikers. Sifting through the true history, made-up history, lists of facts and multitude of characters, what slowly emerges is a surprisingly authentic and at times quite touching (though manipulative) picture of modern-day L.A.

Frey is still flashing his big neon “Look at me, I can write!” sign, and his style — lack of commas or quotes, incessant repetition — can still be irksome. Add the audacity of attempting to encapsulate one of the wildest, most fabled environments on the planet, and there are many ways this novel could have gone wrong. But he stays on a utilitarian, albeit bloated, course.

When not resurrecting L.A.’s history or making lists — gangs, museums, universities, nationalities, homicides, artists, and on and on — Frey focuses on four main stories: Old Man Joe, a 39-going-on-75-year-old homeless alcoholic whose attempt to help a meth addict goes terribly wrong; Amberton, a top actor whose obsession with a young man almost shatters his perfectly constructed life; Esperanza, a first-generation Latina who finds herself denying her intelligence and her family’s dreams for her future just to survive; and Dylan and Maddie, a young couple fleeing abuse and violence in the Midwest who come looking for a house by the ocean only to find a new brand of horror.

Mingling with these archetypal L.A. residents are various others. We’ve met them all before, so Frey finds no real need to dwell on them. It’s enough to remind us that they exist; that they are living and breathing with stories that will repeat and repeat as more and more people surge to L.A. searching out their dreams. L.A. will continue on. The rich and poor will continue in their separate worlds, killing and loving each other, colliding occasionally with either unhappy or happy outcomes.

Given Frey’s history, many may be inclined to approach “Bright Shiny Morning” with a roll of the eyes, discounting what is actually not a bad read. It’s too long, too cliched, too repetitive, too self-conscious, too skimmable and Frey’s rhythm will infect your mind. But for a long book it reads quickly, and Frey has proved that these old stories do have a little life left in them.

[ click to read at ]

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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Charles Bukowski’s L.A.

Esotouric and City Lights Books present: BookExpo Edition of Charles Bukowski’s LA Saturday, May 31st 2008

BookExpo attendees, show your badge when boarding to receive a free Bukbird beer coaster featuring Tony Millionaire’s cartoon bluebird character, and a very special gift from City Lights Books, a pre-release copy of their Charles Bukowski anthology “Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook: Uncollected Stories and Essays, 1944 – 1990.” “Portions,” to be published in September 2008, gathers many essential, uncollected pieces including his first and last short stories, and his first “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” column. Many of the writings have only appeared in ‘zines, newspapers, chapbooks, and magazines. Never before has this material been collected and made so accessible. And Esotouric’s BEA riders will see it first.

[ click to visit ]

Posted on May 14, 2008 by Editor

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LA Times Review

from the Los Angeles Times

jamesfrey-latimes.pngBOOK REVIEW

‘Bright Shiny Morning’ by James Frey

Shallow characters populate this poorly written, superficial novel set in Los Angeles.

By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

May 13, 2008

“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. Two and a half years after he was eviscerated by Oprah Winfrey for exaggerating many of the incidents in his now-discredited memoir “A Million Little Pieces,” he’s back with this book, which aims to be the big novel about Los Angeles, a panoramic look at the city that seeks to tell us who we are and how we live.

Clearly, HarperCollins, Frey’s publisher, expects a lot from this book; it reportedly paid a million and a half dollars for it. You can interpret that in a few ways: as a shrewd business decision (as of this writing, the novel is No. 52 at or as yet another symbol of a book industry in crisis, with publishers grasping at whatever straws they can to manufacture buzz.

Ultimately, though, it is still what’s on the page that matters, and “Bright Shiny Morning” is an execrable novel, a literary train wreck without even the good grace to be entertaining.

Written as an Altman-esque collage, it follows several parallel story lines that never coalesce. The idea is to trace a collective vision of the city, high and low, from Hollywood to the Valley to East L.A. — an attempt to get at the fluidity of Los Angeles.

There’s Old Man Joe, a drunk who inhabits a bathroom on the Venice boardwalk and seeks mystical affirmation in a daily ritual. Or Amberton Parker, a St. Paul’s and Harvard-educated Oscar-winning actor, who lives a perfect life with his wife and children and has a secret. (Bet you can’t guess what it is.)

As a connective device, Frey interweaves a series of short passages outlining the history of L.A., beginning with the founding of the Pueblo and extending to the present day. Yet this strategy ends up as a metaphor for all that’s wrong with the book. These bits read like encyclopedia entries, devoid of soul or personality, so generic as to be inconsequential, as if Frey has no interest or engagement in what he has chosen to write about.

That’s the issue with “Bright Shiny Morning” — or one of them, anyway. Frey seems to know little about Los Angeles and to have no interest in it as a real place where people wrestle with actual life. There are obligatory riffs on freeways and natural disasters and a chapter on visual artists that lists “the highest price ever paid for a piece of their work in a public auction.” There are also occasional installments of “Fun Facts” about the city, as if to give the illusion of a certain depth. Did you know that it is “illegal to lick a toad within the city limits of Los Angeles”? Neither did I. But I also don’t know what this has to do with the larger story of the novel, except as another example of L.A. as odd and quirky, a territory in which we all “live with Angels and chase their dreams.”

Frey, of course, intends this to be amusing, lighthearted and witty in tone. (“Learning fun facts is really an enjoyable, and sometimes enlightening process,” he writes. “And, of course, it’s fun too!!!”) It comes off as two-dimensional, however, not to mention poorly written and conceived — much like the book’s narrative elements.

Esperanza, a Chicana from East L.A., forgoes a college scholarship after being embarrassed at a high school graduation party over the size of her thighs. Eventually she takes a job as a maid for a tyrannical white woman in Pasadena, only to fall in love with the woman’s son.

That’s nothing compared to the story of Dylan and Maddie, two crazy kids from Ohio who come to L.A. with only their faith in each other to sustain them.

After nearly 300 pages, living on $20,000 they’ve stolen from a vicious drug-dealing motorcycle gang, Maddie turns to Dylan and says: “You know how I read all the gossip magazines while I’m at the pool? . . . And they’re all about these famous people, actresses and singers and models and stuff. . . . Well, I think that I want to be an actress.”

“An actress?” he asks.

“Yeah, I want to be a movie star.”

How do we reckon with a novel in which the desire to become an actress is treated as original and organic, in which the only Mexican American character is a maid?

How do we reckon with a book in which the city is flat and lifeless as a stage set, in which Frey uses broad generalizations (“Thirty-thousand Persians fleeing the rule of the ayatollahs. One-hundred and twenty-five thousand Armenians escaping Turkish genocide. Forty-thousand Laotians avoiding minefields. Seventy-five thousand Thais none in Bangkok sex shows.”) to try to animate what his imagination cannot?

Yes, this is Los Angeles, in the way a cheap Hollywood movie is Los Angeles: superficial, a collection of loose impressions that don’t add up.

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.

David L. Ulin is book editor of The Times.

[ click to read at ]

Posted on May 13, 2008 by Editor

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James Frey TODAY SHOW Interview


Posted on May 13, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Bright Shiny News | | 10 Comments »

Rauschenberg Gone

from the AP via Breitbart

Pop artist Robert Rauschenberg dies in Fla. at 82
May 13 11:33 AM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Robert Rauschenberg, whose use of odd and everyday articles earned him a reputation as a pioneer in pop art but whose talents spanned the worlds of painting, sculpture and dance, has died, his gallery representative said Tuesday. He was 82.Rauschenberg died Monday, said Jennifer Joy, his representative at Pace Wildensteins.

Rauschenberg, who first gained fame in the 1950s, didn’t mine popular culture wholesale as Andy Warhol did with Campbell’s soup cans and Roy Lichtenstein did with comic books.

Instead, his “combines,” incongruous combinations of three-dimensional objects and paint, shared pop’s blurring of art and objects from modern life.

He also responded to his pop colleagues and began incorporating up-to- the-minute photographed images in his works in the 1960s, including, memorably, pictures of John F. Kennedy.

Among Rauschenberg’s most famous works was “Bed,” created after he woke up in the mood to paint but had no money for a canvas. His solution was to take the quilt off his bed and use paint, toothpaste and fingernail polish.

Not to be limited by paint, Rauschenberg was a sculptor and choreographer and even won a 1984 Grammy Award for best album package for the Talking Heads album “Speaking in Tongues.”

“I’m curious,” he said in 1997 in one of the few interviews he granted in later years. “It’s very rewarding. I’m still discovering things every day.”

One of Rauschenberg’s first and most famous combines was entitled “Monogram,” a 1959 work consisting of a stuffed angora goat, a tire, a police barrier, the heel of a shoe, a tennis ball, and paint.

He met Jasper Johns in 1954. He and the younger artist, both destined to become world famous, became lovers and influenced each other’s work. According to the book “Lives of the Great 20th Century Artists,” Rauschenberg told biographer Calvin Tomkins that “Jasper and I literally traded ideas. He would say, `I’ve got a terrific idea for you,’ and then I’d have to find one for him.”

Born Milton Rauschenberg in 1925 in Port Arthur, Texas, and raised a Christian fundamentalist, Rauschenberg wanted to be a minister but gave it up because his church banned dancing.

“I was considered slow,” he once said “While my classmates were reading their textbooks, I drew in the margins.”


He was drafted into the U.S. Navy during World War II and knew little about art until a chance visit to an art museum where he saw his first painting at age 18. He drew portraits of his fellow sailors for them to send home.

When his time in the service was up, Rauschenberg used the GI bill to pay his tuition at art school. He changed his name to Robert because it sounded more artistic.

“I don’t ever want to go,” he told Harper’s when asked about dying. “I don’t have a sense of great reality about the next world; my feet are too ugly to wear those golden slippers. But I’m working on my fear of it. And my fear is that something interesting will happen, and I’ll miss it.”

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

[ click to read AP article at ]

Posted on May 13, 2008 by Editor

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Janet Maslin Channels James Frey

from the New York Observer

Janet Maslin Channels James Frey In Rave Review Of Bright Shiny Morning



Janet Maslin Gets It Right Again, Much To The Chagrin Of SomeJanet Maslin loved Bright Shiny Morning. The teaser text on the New York Times books portal is “James Frey stepped up to the plate and hit one out of the park with his new book.” Ms. Maslin’s review, published today, is not only an unequivocal rave, but a tribute to Mr. Frey’s choppy trademark style: “His publisher called it a dazzling tour de force. (Look, somebody had to, if only to create a comeback drama.) But that wasn’t so far off the mark…. even the stray facts had their artistry…. Even the one-sentence page had its use here.”

It’s a funny, college-y little gimmick, reminiscent of the time Michiko Kakutani wrote about Benjamin Kunkel’s Indecisionin the voice of Holden Caulfield. Mr. Frey’s editor at HarperCollins, Tim Duggan, called the Maslin review “pretty extraordinary.”

“That was huge for James,” Mr. Duggan wrote in an e-mail, “and it was certainly hard-earned and well-deserved.”

[ click to read article at the NY Observer ]

Posted on May 12, 2008 by Editor

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The Publishing Industry Mafia

from New York magazine 

Just Business

The fall of book publishing’s last don.


Illustration by Gluekit  (Photo: Sean Gallup; Getty Images (Olson); Jesse Grant/WireImage (hat); AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler (building)


If you want to understand book publishing, you need to think less Bloomsbury and more Gambino: The five big companies are like the five families. Imprints are crews with plenty of ambitious upstarts looking to make their bones. And every once in a while even a good earner has to get whacked to send a message. Until it was reported that he was stepping down as CEO last week, Peter Olson was the godfather of Random House, which became dominant in the industry when he merged it with Bantam Doubleday Dell ten years ago. Olson’s Big Random, twice the size of its nearest rival and controlling 20 percent of the adult book market, was created to be a bully. With one hand it would beat down the door of the bookstore chains, forcing them to give all of its titles preferred placement in return for the house’s biggest books. With the other it would muffle the insistent agents and their ever-increasing demands. 

At least that was the plan. But the reverse happened. For all of his tough talk, the proud and cerebral Olson was never a real enforcer.

[ click to read full article at ]

Posted on May 12, 2008 by Editor

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Painting With One’s Butt

from the Village Voice


Posted on May 12, 2008 by Editor

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New York Times Raves Over BRIGHT SHINY MORNING

from the New York Times

May 12, 2008


Little Pieces of Los Angeles, Done His Way


He wrote a book but it was bad, liar bad, faker bad, it got him in trouble. A million little pieces. It was the name of the book. It was also how hard he got hit. He had to sit there on the couch. Everybody saw. The television celebrity book club woman got mad, she let him have it. He had to sit there on the couch. He squirmed, he cringed. Everybody watched, everybody blamed him. Then it was over. Then he was gone.

He waited. They forgot about him. He tried again.

Robert Caplin for The New York Times

In the 1930s Los Angeles is the film capital of the world. F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of “The Great Gatsby,” comes to live there. He tries to write movies. He fails. He writes a Hollywood novel, “The Last Tycoon.” He says there are no second acts in American lives. He turns out to be wrong.

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.

He wrote a big book. He wrote about a city. Los Angeles. He made up a lot of characters, high low rich poor lucky not, every kind, the book threw them together. It was random but smart. Every now and then he would pause the story, switch to the present tense and throw in an urban fact.

Like this: The Los Angeles area has a museum devoted to the banana.

James Frey loved Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski and maybe even John Fante but he didn’t sound like them, he didn’t sound beat or cool. He sounded hopeful. He sounded unguarded, tender. He quit posturing. He stopped romanticizing squalor. He found new energy. He sounded more like Carl Sandburg in love hate thrall with great maddening Chicago than like the usual tough gritty moody chronicler of California’s broken dreams.

He wrote about people who were drawn to Los Angeles and who they were, why they came, what they wanted, whether they got it, if they didn’t get that, then what they got instead. He looked into their hearts. But he didn’t get sloppy, not maudlin. He just made up characters and wrote as if he cared about them desperately. Bright Shiny Morning. A new chance, real or illusory, that’s what they all wanted. Bright Shiny Morning. So he made that the name of the book.

His publisher called it a dazzling tour de force. (Look, somebody had to, if only to create a comeback drama.) But that wasn’t so far off the mark. Even if his publisher maybe could have asked more questions about what the banana museum had to do with anything.

Still, even the stray facts had their artistry. They helped turn this book into the captivating urban kaleidoscope that, most recently, Charles Bock’s “Beautiful Children” was supposed to be. Bright Shiny Morning was mobile and alert to layout, tempo, different voices, how words looked on the page. Different visual styles suited different characters. Some got long litanies of brisk, sharp dialogue. Others got dense, descriptive prose.

Even the one-sentence page had its use here.

The language got sleek and arch when the book described two superstars, Amberton and Casey. A man and a woman, married to each other, best friends both gay no secrets. Everything perfect, supposed to look that way. Prop children. Money houses cars personal assistants nannies yoga teacher everything perfect. Wearing vicuña. Eating ahi tuna. Still Amberton wanted more, got a crush on an ex-football player. All this captured with elegance, with wit. Movie stars. Not so original, so what? So what if the book always made poor people humble decent better than rich spoiled profligate ones?

So there were Maddie and Dylan, young and in love, eking out a living and traveling on a moped, he eventually got a job as a caddy she as a clerk. The book loved them. There was Old Man Joe, homeless guy, living in a bathroom in Venice, Calif., somehow stronger more decent more heroic than the star who plays movie heroes.

And Esperanza, Mexican-American, working as a maid for an old white lady so mean she threw her morning cup of coffee if Esperanza didn’t make it right. But the old lady turned out to have a son. He liked Esperanza, liked treating her like a human being. Maybe he liked needling his mother even better.

There were easy ways a cynical, sentimental crybaby like the million little pieces guy could have told Esperanza’s part of the story. Crisis, violence, redemption, whatever: that’s what he knew about. That’s what he wrote about. That’s what he passed off as nonfiction. That’s why he sounded as if he’d seen too many lousy movies.

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.

[ click to read review in the New York Times ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Bright Shiny News, Literary News | | 3 Comments »

Keith Haring Would Have Been 50 This Year

from the NY Daily News

[ click to view complete Haring slideshow tribute ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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“I guess I, like, 97% agree with Sedaris.”

from GalleyCat @

Fiction? Nonfiction? Memoir? David Sedaris Just Calls His Work “Real-ish”

david.jpgCount on David Sedaris to sidestep the whole thorny memoir-truth issue with humor. When ‘When You Are Engulfed In Flames’ comes out next month, it “will carry a short preface, labeling the contents ‘real-ish.'” I guess I’ve always thought that if 97 percent of the story is true, then that’s an acceptable formula,” he told the Christian Science Monitor.

Sedaris goes on to say that “we live in a time when our government is telling us some pretty profound lies. And then James Frey writes a book and it turns out some of it’s not true. No one asked for their vote back, but everyone wanted back the money they’d spent on that book. We’re in the shadow of huge lies and getting angry about the small ones.”

The issue of how long someone whose sales were predicated on sympathy and trust spent in jail might not seem like a “small lie” to everyone, of course, but yeah, it’s not a WMD-level whopper. So I guess I, like, 97% agree with Sedaris.

[ click to read GalleyCat page ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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People Envy Happiness, Dogs, Though, Sense Courage Knowing Jubilation Means Better Ass(ets)

Tom Waits on P.E.H.D.T.S.C.K.J.M.B.A. – the constellational philosophy guiding his new 2008 tour, Glitter and Doom. Visit for more.

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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“Oprah won’t be reading it, but maybe you should.”

from the NY Daily News

Disgraced memoirist James Frey opts for fiction with ‘Bright Shiny Morning’

Saturday, May 3rd 2008, 10:38 AM

BRIGHT SHINY MORNING by James Frey, Harper, $26.95

James Frey was publicly scourged by Oprah for fabricating pivotal passages in “A Million Little Pieces,” his “memoir” that she made a best seller when she chose it for her book club. Frey sat still for her nationally televised shaming, his dejection more real than his work.

James Frey

Well, Frey isn’t taking it sitting down anymore. He defends his processes and calls out his editor for manipulation in the current Vanity Fair. Now comes his first novel, or at least his first book labeled fiction.

In the tradition of novels about Los Angeles, take Nathanael West on one hand and Jackie Collins on the other, then spread your arms wide. Somewhere in the middle, “Bright Shiny Morning” falls in your lap.

Frey begins on a droll note: “Nothing in this novel should be considered accurate or reliable.” He’s referring to the L.A.-centric lists that stud the book – highway routes, gang names, eccentric laws – where he’s said to mix facts with fiction, just like in his memoirs (his second was “My Friend Leonard”). Get it?

His many stories mix in the passing with the interspersed narratives of four couples.

A homeless drunk tries to protect a teenage street kid; a Mexican-American maid is humiliated by her mistress but loved by the woman’s son; two young runaways from the Midwest are desperate to start a new life in the city, two high-gloss movie stars fake their marriage to hide the fact both are gay.

It’s about grim failure in Tinseltown (West) and it’s so Hollywood, baby! (Collins) with screen-ready portrayals of the little people, too.

“Bright Shiny Morning” is a bit literary and a lot schlock. It’s also get-out commercial. Oprah won’t be reading it, but maybe you should. It won’t improve your life, but your weekend maybe?

[ click to read review at NY Daily News ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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Mike Tyson Documentary To Show At Cannes

from the Playlist blog

New ‘Legendary’ Nas Track Featured In James Toback’s Upcoming Mike Tyson Documentary

When we wrote about the Cannes 2008 line-up, we briefly mentioned James Toback’s upcoming documentary that will debut at the Croisette about former heavy weight boxing champion Mike Tyson.Well, apparently a new Nas track titled, “Legendary,” will be featured in the doc according to Angry Ape. The score has been composed by hip-hop producer and keyboard player Salaam Remi known for his work with the Godson (Remi also producer ‘Be A Nigger, Too” from the controversially and still-unreleased upcoming album Nigger.)

The documentary, entitled “Tyson,” evidently follows the path that the fighter took after both his championship losses and his eventual fall from grace. Toback has said that he amassed over 30 hours of interviews with Tyson which took almost a year to complete. “Mike made himself completely vulnerable in this film, and he was honest about all the things that have highlighted his life,” said Toback.

Toback earned Tyson’s trust years ago when the mercurial pugilist played himself in the 1991 film, “Black and White,” which also featured Wu-Tang‘s Method Man, InspectahDeck, Masta Killa, GhostfaceKillah,  and an infamous scene where uber-tart Bijou Phillips blows ‘s Raekwon (the MPAA gave the film an NC-17 rating initially until this sex scene was edited down).

[ click to read full post at the ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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New Books Coming Out

from the NY Daily News

New books for your radar

Saturday, May 10th 2008, 4:00 AM

Wives, Wheels Weapons by James Frey and Terry RichardsonThere are some great books coming. To help you keep on track here’s a quick list of some titles soon to be in bookstores.



  • “The Girl with the Crooked Nose: A Tale of Murder, Obsession and Forensic Artistry” by Ted Botha, May 13

  • “Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest” by Lincoln Hall, May 13

  • “Leisureville: Adventures in america’s Retirement Utopia” by Andrew D. Blechman, May 13

  • “Hospital: Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity, Plus Red Tape, Bad Behavior, Money, God and Diversity on Steriods” by Julie Salamon, May 15

  • “Now the Hell Will Start: One Soldier’s Flight from the Greatest Manhunt of World WarII” by Brendan I. Koerner, May 29

  • “Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory” by Mickey Rapin, May 29

  • “Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science” by Richard Preston, May 27

[ click to read article at NY Daily News ]

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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And on Sunday, God created FACEBOOK

Hello – please consider joining the Facebook group for James Frey’s Bright Shiny Morning –

Please consider joining the BRIGHT SHINY MORNING Facegroup(tm) 

If you do sign up, too please take a moment to click on the link at the right of the group page and Invite to Join any of your Friends you think also might be interested in reading Bright Shiny Morning

Thank you.

Posted on May 11, 2008 by Editor

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