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A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces (edition 2003)

by James Frey

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7,801198430 (3.49)117
Title:A Million Little Pieces
Authors:James Frey
Info:Nan A. Talese (2003), Hardcover, 383 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:autobiography, alcoholism, addiction, recovery, Oprah's Book Club

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A Million Little Pieces by James Frey


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Showing 1-5 of 195 (next | show all)
this was at least twice as long as it needed to be, and not just because of the overused repetition. i thought, whether fiction or memoir, that there is a worthy story in here, but i didn't really read it in this book. i wish i did because there is some interesting and maybe important stuff about being so stuck on a certain method of treatment that you can't see something else working for someone, or about how a god centered approach just isn't going to work for everyone since we don't all believe in god. but i didn't like the way this was written enough that the style took away from the book and message (so did his arrogance, but mostly it was his style). this was written in a vaguely experimental way, but by someone who - he tells us this in the book - doesn't think rules apply to him. so he's writing to break the rules just because that's "who he is," but it turns out that to break the rules and write a good book requires knowing some stuff about writing. this just came across as pretentious, annoying, and not good writing. and arrogant. so arrogant.

my main problem with the book, though, is that - and i'm not talking about the "controversy" here - it doesn't read as true. parts of it do, but lots of it feel so false. probably the false parts are the real ones, and the sections that seem real are the made up ones, but it reads uneven and the language doesn't even seem real. i just never felt like his writing was really honest, in contrast to the memoir i'd just finished, the chronology of water. it felt much more like he was just saying "look at me, look at me" and his purpose was just that, not to tell the story behind it. just to tell how far he'd fallen and so how far he'd come back, how strong he was to do it the way he did; it was about him, not a larger story.

as to how much of it was made up - certainly memories aren't reliable and memoirs are, in my opinion, always some part fiction. it sounds like maybe his was more fiction than would normally be acceptable, but that is really irrelevant to me and my review. although i did find these quotes funny in light of all of this:

"It tells the truth, and as awful as it can be, the truth is what matters. It is what I should be remembered by, if I am remembered at all. Remember the truth. It is all that matters."

"...is not in any way, shape or form related to its truth, and that is all that matters, the truth. That this man is standing in front of me and everyone else in this room lying to us is heresy. The truth is all that matters. This is fucking heresy." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Jun 7, 2015 |
Originally found on my book blog!

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

My review:

“I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal.”

When I first started reading this book, I had no idea about the controversy with this book. I feel like to write an honest review, I can’t not mention the controversy and my take on it. I read the Wikipedia page and some other things on it and I can tell you that I still consider this a memoir and a great one at that. I know some people don’t like that Frey lied about spending some time in jail when he didn’t, but who has told the whole truth when talking or writing a book about themselves? The controversy is why I took off half a point, otherwise it would have been an easy five stars. Now onto the actual book!

James Frey wrote this book in an interesting way an interesting way.

There were times that he repeated himself (like I did in the previous sentence). And there were few full paragraphs. What I mean by that is that a lot of the sentences started on a new line. I’m not sure why he did that, but the free prose made the book different. A good different.

He also did not put any quote marks in this book. At all. It looked a lot like this

Leonard stands.

Let’s go for a walk.

I stay on the bench.

No thanks.

Come on.



I look up.

I don’t know if I can be seen with you in that sweatsuit.

This time of writing was confusing at times unless he specified who was talking or if was what being said was aloud or inner monologue. Once I could decipher between the two, I liked this time of writing. It’s unique and weird, a lot like this book.

James Frey may be an Alcoholic and a drug Addict and a Criminal, but he’s also a good writer. There were parts of this book that just amazed me.

The screams of the Addicted without their addictions. The screams of the dead who are somehow still alive.

I mean I pictured vampires when he said this, but that’s not too far off from some addicts that I’ve come across. His writing comes alive. His writing is real. His writing is scary. I love his writing.

I am alone. Alone here and alone in the world. Alone in my heart and alone in my mind. Along everywhere, all the time, for as long as I can remember. Alone with my family, alone with my friends, along in a Room full of people. Alone when I wake, alone through each awful day, alone when I finally meet the blackness. I am alone in my horror. Alone in my horror.

I just want to go give him a hug. It’s hard to read such sad things, especially when I know it’s so real. But it made me so happy when he finally was happy again.

I could tell when he started shifting from the Alcoholic and the drug Addict and the Criminal to a person with Feelings and Heart.

I am a Criminal and he is a Judge and I am white and he is black, but at this moment none of that matters. He is a man who needs a friend and I can be his friend.

When James really started becoming human, it was one of the happiest moments I’ve had in weeks. I knew he recovered to write this book because, well he wrote this book, but it was awesome getting to read about his recovery. The book itself was really good. It had it’s funny moments, it had it’s sad moments, and it had it’s happy moments. There were times that I wanted to just shake him and say “JAMES QUICK BEING AN IDIOT. YOU NEED TO RECOVER.” and there were other times where I wanted to shake everyone else and say “JAMES IS GOING TO RECOVER IN EVERY WAY THAT HE THINKS WILL WORK. LET HIM DO THAT.”

This book broke my heart at times. At the beginning I was sad for him because I knew that his life was far from good and he was so young and he was so ruined. When his good friends would leave the clinic, I’d pray that they would recover and stay in touch with James. When James finally found love for the first time in his life, I was so happy for him but I was also worried for him.

I’ve known people that have gone through these types of problems and I’ve heard a few different recovery stories. This one is one of my favourites. I am so happy that James recovered and has a life now. I am excited to read his second book, My Friend Leonard.

I’d talk about the other “characters” in this book, but that makes it feel like it’s not a non-fiction. The other stories of the people in this book were important, but I feel like this was all about James and his road through the clinic. I will say that I had some other people in the book that I had a liking to and it was hard letting them go without hearing their full story.

Since he wrote this book, I knew it would end happily. I didn’t expect it to end the way that it did, but it was a great ending. I am so happy for James Frey and will keep him in my thoughts that he can keep strong.

James has never relapsed. ( )
  beearedee | Feb 16, 2015 |
What struck me most about this book was the use of language. It is composed of short sharp repeating phrases, which embody a desperation, a loss of direction. Everything is either one way or the other.
The prospect of death is always just one step away. There is no chance it will happen immediately; we know that because we are not at the end of the book, so we are drawn towards the character's fate. What will he do? It could end on the next page. We could read the entire book only to reach his overdose suicide on the last page.
The female character provides us with an alternative. Her's is a natural addiction. Addictive personalities are defined as the cause of her destructive addiction. This is done early on, so we are also faced with the transition to an essay, interestingly balancing the transition to female. ( )
  villemel | Feb 3, 2015 |
I think everyone should read this book one time in their life. It educates people about the disease addiction, which i think people do not take seriously. I can tell you from personal experiences that it is very real. This book lets you live in the mind of a recovering addict for a few months while he deals with the devastation that he has caused ever since he started down this path (circa the age of 10). It gives you hope that addicts can get better. It also gives you insight about what addicts go through, because i for one do not understand how they cant just stop and i think that that is a common thought that plagues society. Addicts are not accepted properly, and they are portrayed as week because they cannot put down the bottle. This book takes all of those ideas and shoots them to the ground and frankly makes you feel guilty for thinking them in the first place. I loved this book. I cried at so many points, but that isn't why i loved it. I loved that the author used a candid tone throughout the whole book and shared the good the bad and the ugly with the readers. ( )
  Mollyb123456 | Jan 22, 2015 |
Hard to get into at first but once I did... I couldn't put it down. Some parts were really difficult to swallow. Overall I really enjoyed the book, even if some of it was untruthful. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
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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 afarid I can't help you.


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

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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.

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