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A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
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A Million Little Pieces (edition 2003)

by James Frey

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8,064216398 (3.49)118
Member:lit_chick
Title:A Million Little Pieces
Authors:James Frey
Info:Nan A. Talese (2003), Hardcover, 383 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:memoir, alcoholism, addiction, recovery

Work details

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

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» See also 118 mentions

English (213)  German (1)  French (1)  English (215)
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
On the back-cover the Observer describes this as 'memoir', which surprised me as the look-at-me style of writing and the parade of characters with interesting back-stories read more like literary fiction to me.

The constant repetitions, lack of punctuation and random use of capital letters irritated me but worked brilliantly to showcase 'James Frey' the character: individual, arrogant, cool with a fierce addiction. Similarly the constant use of the present tense and the minute detail was a powerful literary device and spotlighted the narrator's ego and self-obsession.

I have no first-hand experience of being 'in recovery'. From what I gather from an addict this side of the pond, her meetings tend to be largely populated by feckless, inarticulate and angry individuals who are also poor. But of course they wouldn't have access to the expensive, residential care depicted here, which attracts judges and mafia bosses.

Having been to the dentist the morning I read that scene, the minute detail made me squirm, to be honest I concentrated on anything but what my dentist was doing, so bravo for James for paying attention.

The style of writing did annoy me but then again it was perfect for the subject-matter. And the seemingly moment-by-moment thoughts and feelings displayed enlightened me to the loathing/fear/self-absorption of someone trying to free themselves from addiction. ( )
  LARA335 | Nov 18, 2016 |
very interesting ( )
  KimSalyers | Oct 9, 2016 |
very interesting ( )
  KimSalyers | Oct 3, 2016 |
I heard this on audiobook just after it was revealed that it was a fraud. But still, I was hoping for a bit more. It is tedious and repetitive. ( )
  PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
I heard this on audiobook just after it was revealed that it was a fraud. But still, I was hoping for a bit more. It is tedious and repetitive. ( )
  PaulGodfread | Sep 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 213 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The Young Man came to the Old Man seeking counsel.
I broke something, Old Man.
How badly is it broken?
It's in a million little pieces.
I'm afraid I can't help you.

Why?

There's nothing you can do.
Why?
It can't be fixed.
Why?
It's broken beyond repair. It's in a million little pieces.
Dedication
First words
I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin.
Quotations
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Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
James Frey wakes up on a plane, with no memory of the preceding two weeks. His face is cut and his body is covered with bruises. He has no wallet and no idea of his destination. He has abused alcohol and every drug he can lay his hands on for a decade -- and he is aged only twenty-three. What happens next is one of the most powerful and extreme stories ever told. His family takes him to a rehabilitation centre. And James Frey starts his perilous journey back to the world of the drug and alcohol-free living. His lack of self-pity is unflinching and searing. A Million Little Pieces is a dazzling account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed. It is also the introduction of a bold and talented literary voice.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307276902, Paperback)

Book Description
At the age of 23, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his front teeth knocked out and his nose broken. He had no idea where the plane was headed nor any recollection of the past two weeks. An alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three, he checked into a treatment facility shortly after landing. There he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached age 24. This is Frey’s acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab.

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The electrifying opening of James Frey's debut memoir, A Million Little Pieces, smash-cuts to the then 23-year-old author on a Chicago-bound plane "covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood." Wanted by authorities in three states, without ID or any money, his face mangled and missing four front teeth, Frey is on a steep descent from a dark marathon of drug abuse. His stunned family checks him into a famed Minnesota drug treatment center where a doctor promises "he will be dead within a few days" if he starts to use again, and where Frey spends two agonizing months of detox confronting "The Fury" head on:

I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.

One of the more harrowing sections is when Frey submits to major dental surgery without the benefit of anesthesia or painkillers (he fights the mind-blowing waves of "bayonet" pain by digging his fingers into two old tennis balls until his nails crack). His fellow patients include a damaged crack addict with whom Frey wades into an ill-fated relationship, a federal judge, a former championship boxer, and a mobster (who, upon his release, throws a hilarious surf-and-turf bacchanal, complete with pay-per-view boxing). In the book's epilogue, when Frey ticks off a terse update on everyone, you can almost hear the Jim Carroll Band's brutal survivor's lament "People Who Died" kicking in on the soundtrack of the inevitable film adaptation.

The rage-fueled memoir is kept in check by Frey's cool, minimalist style. Like his steady mantra, "I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal," Frey's use of repetition takes on a crisp, lyrical quality which lends itself to the surreal experience. The book could have benefited from being a bit leaner. Nearly 400 pages is a long time to spend under Frey's influence, and the stylistic acrobatics (no quotation marks, random capitalization, left-aligned text, wild paragraph breaks) may seem too self-conscious for some readers, but beyond the literary fireworks lurks a fierce debut. --Brad Thomas Parsons

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:22 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A memoir of drug and alcohol abuse and the rehabilitation experience examines addiction and recovery through the eyes of a man who had taken his addictions to deadly extremes, describing the battle to confront the consequences of his life.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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