Reviews mixed on new James Frey fiction

Wed May 14, 2008 8:05am EDT
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By Arthur Spiegelman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Author James Frey's first book since the scandal over his 2005 bestseller is receiving mixed reviews. But at least this time everyone agrees the book is fiction.

Frey sparked a major literary outcry when it was discovered that key chunks of his drugs-and-alcohol memoir "A Million Little Pieces" had been fabricated.

This time there is no argument over "Bright Shiny Morning," an admitted work of fiction that the New York Times says restores his reputation as a writer.

But the reviewer for the Los Angeles Times says "Bright Shiny Morning" is "a terrible book, one of the worst I've ever read."

"A Million Little Pieces," first published in 2003 and presented by Frey as a factual memoir, was catapulted to the top of the bestsellers list for nonfiction in 2005 after winning praise from talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

But the book was exposed in January 2006 as having been embellished with copious passages of fiction, including exaggerated accounts of run-ins with the law and time spent in jail.

His punishment was to be savaged on U.S. television by Winfrey, who said she felt "duped" and apologized to her audience for initially standing by Frey's book. He ultimately confessed on the show to "lying."

A month later, he was dropped by his publisher, Riverhead Books.   Continued...