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A Million Little Pieces [Paperback]

James Frey
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

10 May 2004

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.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New Ed edition (10 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719561027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719561023
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

When he entered a residential treatment centre at the age of twenty-three, James Frey had destroyed his body and his mind almost beyond repair. He faced a stark choice: accept that he wasn’t going to see twenty-four or step into the fallout of his smoking wreck of a life and take drastic action. Surrounded by patients as troubled as he, Frey had to fight to find his own way to confront the consequences of the life he had lived so far, and to determine what future, if any, he has. A Million Little Pieces is an uncommon account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed.

Review

Excellent ... Frey's storytelling feels compulsive, involuntary ... poignant and tragic. The forthcoming film will almost certainly be a cult hit ... The good thing about Frey is that he writes as if he needs to; I hope his new compulsion thrives (William Leith, Spectator)

James Frey's utterly mesmerising account ... [is] easily the most remarkable non-fiction book about drugs and drug taking since Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ... As a memoir, it is almost mythic. You can imagine it made epic by Martin Scorsese, the auteur of wayward American maleness in all its extremity ... Utterly compulsive (Observer)

Frey really can write. Brilliantly. And if you don't think so, f*** you (Evening Standard)

Clear sighted and intellectually honest (Literary Review)

A heartbreaking memoir ... inspirational and essential (Bret Easton Ellis)

This book is definitely going to be huge ... There is no question that he's a good writer. As soon as you start reading the book, Frey's voice rings out. It's clear and sharp and turbocharged ... We love rehab memoirs. This is a good one. It might even be a great one (Independent)

An extraordinary and deeply moving book that will make you think about family, friendship, love, religion, death and perhaps most of all, the human spirit (Irish Sunday Independent)

Startling and ultimately breath taking (Kirkus Reviews)

Horribly honest and funny ... Read this immediately (Gus Van Sant)

Harrowing, poetic and rather magnificent (FHM)

James Frey spent ten years addicted to alcohol and crack before going into rehab at the age of 23. This unrelenting memoir of his recovery spares no detail. Luckily, he is a good writer - indulgent and uncompromising (Metro)

Frey is selfish, egocentric, violent and pompous . . . What redeems this insufferably bad mannered book is that, at the end of the day, Frey can write. Brilliantly (Scotsman)

Frey's writing style vividly conveys the horrors of addiction ... dark humour and sharp observations are evidence of a keen intelligence and an unusual strength of character ... a totally absorbing book (The Magistrate)

Harrowing and unflinching ... This is not a book about drugs but about their aftermath ... Though definitely not for the faint hearted, Frey is often darkly and self deprecatingly funny. This is, in essence, a story of redemption and an incredibly moving one. This is a great book (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

This book is a raging, brilliant debut. (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

Crafted from genuine, raw emotion. (Irish Examiner)

'Blisteringly written ... The prose is superb' (Daily Express)

'James Frey propelled the memoir of dysfunctional life to the top of the bestseller lists' (Daily Telegraph)

'Frey's book combined high quality drug porn with memorable characters and a strong narrative arc that describes a modern version of Rake's Progress.' (Druglink Magazine)

'The last remarkable book I read... I couldn't put it down.' (Q Magazine, Dave Matthews)

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Customer Reviews

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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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
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 2 days 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month ago by Nicky B.
1.0 out of 5 stars There are very few books that I can't be bothered to finish...
This is a painfully bad read. There are so many authors out there who handle this subject with credibility and flair - this guy isn't one of them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by fiery fee
3.0 out of 5 stars Another I could not finish.
Found the first third of the book excellent (it's a chunky one !), but found it all very repetitive in the clinic, an ended up skipping to the last chapter. Read more
Published 2 months ago by alliemac
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely amazing
Funny and heartbreaking ..beautiful book...will stay in your mind for a long time..a must for those who can relate.made a big impact on my life
Published 2 months ago by Irene
2.0 out of 5 stars Failed to live up to synopsis
Slightly disappointed - not too keen on the narrative style and found it rather dull compared to other novels on similar subject
Published 3 months ago by callum shaw`
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, a story of courage & determination.
not the usual sort of book I go for, but once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Gripping, sad, funny & graphic. Really enjoyed this book.p
Published 3 months ago by Carol
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