The press release went out just before 5:30: James Frey has sold a novel called Bright Shiny Morning to HarperCollins, with publisher Jonathan Burnham sealing the deal. “James Frey is an immensely talented writer who has written a truly extraordinary and original novel, one of great breadth and ambition,” Burnham told his publicist;he’d left for the day by the time I called, following an earlier tip that the book might have been a short story collection and might have been sold for a million dollars. “We are excited to have him on board and to be publishing it,”
Frey’s agent, Eric Simonoff, was at his desk at Janklow & Nesbitt, and I asked whether publishers had expressed any skittishness about Frey, given the controversies of 2006. “No,” he said, before explaining that Burnham had had an exclusive first look at the manuscript, because he had expressed such strong interest beforehand. “When word began trickling out that I had a novel from James Frey,” Simonoff elaborated, “every publisher in town contacted me… There would have been a bidding war.” Instead, Burnham seized upon his exclusive and the novel will publish in the summer of 2008.