Picks and Pans Review: Bright Shiny Morning

updated 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by James Frey |

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A literary whipping boy after his two "memoirs" were revealed to be recklessly embellished, Frey returns with a novel so powerful it makes one wonder why he ever detoured into nonfiction. A wildly talented storyteller, he lets it rip in Morning—a gripping epic about Los Angeles. His L.A. is a perilous intoxicant for dreamers, actors and losers of every hue; the city that promises pilgrims they can "grow into whatever flower or ... poison they want to become" is his protagonist. His cast is highlighted by a sexually rapacious megastar married to a fetching actress; both are gay. Frey clearly is having fun here: naughty, look-at-me fun that will keep his edgy image intact.

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