James Frey has had quite a week. His novel, Bright Shiny Day, published last Tuesday by HarperCollins, has sold 14,343 copies, according Nielson BookScan, which tracks about 70 percent of a book's total sales. The New York Observer reports that the recently released figures place the novel at number nine on the New York Times best-seller list. Reviews have been decidely mixed: Janet Maslin of the New York Times loved it, calling Frey a "furiously good storyteller," while David L. Ulin of the Los Angeles Times dismissed it as "a collection of loose impressions that don't add up."
And if the almost constant media attention that has been paid to the disgraced author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard isn't proof that the novel has made a mark, then the violence that broke out while he signed copies of it following a reading in Los Angeles last week should do it.
Last Thursday, Frey gave a reading—with musical accompaniment by popular heavy-metal band Black Tide—at the Whiskey a Go-Go in West Hollywood. According to the New York Post, six bouncers tried to remove some fans (of the band more than the author) when a "brawl spilled out to the sidewalk, where it took twenty cops to quell the violence." A description of the event posted on the blog of Vroman's Bookstore, a cosponsor of the reading, stated that the scuffle occurred about twenty feet from where Frey was signing copies of Bright Shiny Morning.