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A Million Little Pieces
 
 

A Million Little Pieces [Kindle Edition]

James Frey
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)

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Amazon.co.uk Review

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 colourful 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 centre where a doctor promises "he will be dead within a few days" if he starts to use again, and where Frey spends two agonising months of detox confronting "The Fury" head:
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 50 bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, 500 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 mobster, and a former championship boxer (who throws a hilarious surf-and-turf bacchanal, complete with pay-per-view boxing, upon his release). 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-fuelled 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, Amazon.com

Amazon Review

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 colourful 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 centre where a doctor promises "he will be dead within a few days" if he starts to use again, and where Frey spends two agonising months of detox confronting "The Fury" head:
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 50 bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, 500 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 mobster, and a former championship boxer (who throws a hilarious surf-and-turf bacchanal, complete with pay-per-view boxing, upon his release). 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-fuelled 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, Amazon.com


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writer 18 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Whether you believe the writer lived this life or not you cannot argue that it has been written well. A brilliant read.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but a bit unbeliveable 12 Nov 2006
Format:Paperback
The book follows James Frey's time in rehab, following a priveliged childhood, a good university career, dabbling in drink and drugs and finally ending up a hopelesss addict. This leads him to his time in rehab, and his story of how he overcome that addiction.

James' point is that the 12 steps, and believing only God can cure you, is a flawed theory. He feels that only the addict can decide to get clean, in the same way that the addict decides to take the next drink/hit/whatever. He spend his early time in Rehab fighting the system, and anyone that tries to help.

I was not aware of the controversy surrounding the book when I read it, so took it at face value. However at many times the story felt unreal.

I am pretty sure most of this is seriously embellished (even more than the author now admits) - the story reads like a hollywood movie script - a fatherly mafia boss, a boxing champ, a supreme court judge and a deep, caring, loving crack addicted girlfriend are all major characters.

However the few moments when you feel that James is actually baring his soul are what makes the book. He is self obsessed, whiney, self hating and self indulgent, angry and defensive but desparate for acceptance, but he has a bitter humour which stops the book descending into a pity tale.

He obviously creates a lot of the characters and situations, but he could not have written this unless he had some experience of addiction, and his true story I expect would not have been quite as interesting.

Overall this is a great read, and a refreshing outlook on addiction rather than the usual "God saved me, Praise be!" stories. His exaggerations keep the story exciting, making it easier to suspend disbelief. If read as fiction this book is fantastic.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a million huge emotions 17 Dec 2004
Format:Paperback
This book is possibly the most fantastic piece of writing I've read in a long time. Having known someone who went through alcoholism and unfortunately didn't survive this account tells it exactly how it is. More than anything I have read before. It is utterly compelling and I wish there was some possibility of making sure that everyone who has been touched in some way - no matter how small - by addiction or alcoholism could get a copy. I found myself crying on the tube each morning as Frey's account hit every nerve it possibly could. Having just finished I turned to the beginning and started again. After all we see a different picture with the beauty of hindsight. Utterly utterly brilliant...
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Personally, I love it 12 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback
You need to be aware before reading this book that you are either going to love it or hate it. There will be no middle ground. The book does not deserve it.

Frey's introduction to the later prints of this book acknowledges that some of the incidents are possibly not true and, if you end up in the hating it bracket, embelished, but he justifies this with the explanation that he was not entirely of a sound mind at the times he was trying to recollect.

This book is about an Alcoholic, drug Adict and Criminal in his own words. Frey is, for those of us who live in a safe middle class world, the worst of the worst. Someone who has wasted his life, despite having loving parents and a supporting family, choosing instead drugs and alcohol and criminality. The book starts with his arrival in a rehabilitation centre and develops over his time there.

In the centre he comes across as a difficult patient, unwilling to accept what he is being taught, but it is more because he is trying to do things his own way. It is a fine example of how there may be more than one way to solve a problem.

This is a book that pulls no punches. There is a situation in the first third of the book (one of the situations that Frey acknowledges may have been mistold) that I read whilst standing waiting to meet someone and I had to sit down due to feeling unwell. There is another paragraph at the end of the book that had me close to tears. It is emotional and moving throughout.

For people who have experienced addiction, I can imagine it is not an easy book to read and would be easy to disagree with, as I get the feeling that addiction is something that is different for all.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately disappointing 29 Dec 2009
Format:Paperback
I think this book has good points and bad points, and I agree with many of the diverse reviews I've read here. The writing explodes out of the page - it was rushy and fast and I felt like I'd been taken into the childish haphazard world of an addict. I was pleased that you don't have to be an Oxford scholar to be able to convey your experience in a meaningful way. I found the short sentences and incorrectly placed capital letters fit in well with how the writer wanted to express himself - placing importance randomly and unevenly and inventing his own laws and systems like an out-of-control person would. His world was distorted and mad and so was his punctuation and grammar. His short sentences gave the impression of speed and a short attention span, all fitting in with his character and how he had learned (or hadn't learned) to deal with life.

What a shame the writer didn't put this talent for writing into his real story. I felt like I was reading a fantasy. It was like when you replay an incident in your mind, with yourself saying all the things you should / would have said with hindsight. So I felt like I was reading the action replay in James' mind, rather than the truth of what really happened. He was always saying all the right things, giving the right amount of eye contact, always coming out on top, to the point where I felt I was reading about a comic strip hero.

However I was fascinated that he rejected the 12 steps. I've read the 12 steps and I decided that I didn't like them either. Changing your belief system in order to recover is no easy feat - how can you change what you believe so radically without deluding yourself? If you're only believing in god or a higher power to recover from addiction do you really believe?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any lost and wandering souls.
Fabulous book. Not a relaxing Sunday afternoon type read. Heavy going in places. Well written and gritty though.
Published 12 days ago by A RICHARDS
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read and stays long in the mind
A frightening and chilling book about addiction. An excellent read and stays long in the mind,
Published 13 days ago by J. A. Samson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book. Don't bother reading about the media publicity ...
Fantastic book. Don't bother reading about the media publicity that surrounds it, just immerse yourself in the book - and enjoy the ride.
Published 15 days ago by Sam Orrin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read
A friend recommended and lent ,e this book, I couldn't put it down, it was heart wrenching yet uplifting and the fact it was (mostly) based on fact found me connecting even more... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ky
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
Very moving. Let's us see into their world from other perspectives. It's not all black or white. It endorses us to be non judgemental. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ms Eva Currid
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really 'good' condition
I wouldn't describe it as 'good' condition. The book is readable but very worn and the pages are quite yellowed.
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer Gilder
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
Brilliant book. Highly recommended. Very dark in places but comes across very honest. Anyone who has an addiction or is close to someone who has one can relate to the story and it... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr S B Jarvand
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I bought this book for my daughter, as she loves it , it was signed and she thought it was fabulous, thank you
Published 4 months ago by Blondie
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Book
So much controversy surrounds this book that it is hard to know what one is reading, however for my part I imagine that if one is that addicted to drugs and booze and sort of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving
Although harrowing in places, this book moved me to tears three times! I have a much better understanding and sympathy for addicts now and really would recommend it.
Published 5 months ago by Nicky B.
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Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. &quote;
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&quote;
What is more important, fame or integrity. What is more valuable, money or happiness. What is more dangerous, success or failure. If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy. Be content with what you have and take joy in the way things are. When you realize you have all you need, the World belongs to you. &quote;
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Failure is an opportunity. If you blame someone else you will never stop blaming. Fulfill your own obligations, correct your own mistakes. Do what you need to do and demand nothing of others. &quote;
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