At 5:15 on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 29, James Frey informed his fans, in strikingly confident terms, that he had finished his first novel. "Done," he wrote on his blog. "To be released in 2008."
Two weeks later, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Jonathan Burnham of HarperCollins had acquired the book after Mr. Frey's highly regarded new agent, Eric Simonoff of Janklow & Nesbit--who also represents Jhumpa Lahiri and Vikram Chandra--had given Mr. Burnham an exclusive first look at the manuscript. Set in contemporary Southern California, the novel will be published next summer under the title Bright Shiny Morning by the house's flagship Harper imprint. Mr. Simonoff would not confirm a report on the Web site Gawker that the deal was worth $2 million, though Mr. Burnham called the figure "far off" without elaborating.