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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but a bit unbeliveable
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...
Published on 12 Nov. 2006 by Funkeemonkee

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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. It's boring, contrived and achingly middle-class. In my experience dug addicts are always soulful sensitive types down deep, even if all of that is perverted by their addiction. And yet the protagonist of this story is so...
Published 14 months ago by fiery fee


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39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but a bit unbeliveable, 12 Nov. 2006
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. It is also a great book for parents of teenagers to read, as it does give a great insight into the mind of a confused young guy falling a bit too far into the drink and drug scene. For an insight on serious addiction though, I would look elsewhere (Piece of Cake is great)

The inevitable movie will no doubt be a box office smash
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There are very few books that I can't be bothered to finish..., 18 Feb. 2014
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. It's boring, contrived and achingly middle-class. In my experience dug addicts are always soulful sensitive types down deep, even if all of that is perverted by their addiction. And yet the protagonist of this story is so unloveable that I can't get past the first quarter of the book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars AN IRRITATING BOOK, 1 Jun. 2011
Let me tell you about the good bits:

The book is a compulsive read - it takes you along at a pace - and it's enjoyable. It gives some insight into the world of drugs and drink. What is particulary appealing is the thought that this is some sort of biography of life as a drug addict going through rehab - and for this reason it draws the reader on.

Now for the bad bits:

This is not a truthful account and as soon as the penny drops one is left with a sense of being cheated.

The book is irritating: the writing style is just annoying - there are some horrible sentence constructions and the repetition of words and phrases is pointless and adds nothing to the narrative or the story. For example "The Dealers I have seen don't deal what she uses they offered me pot or meth...." Should there be some sort of punctuation there?

And in the same paragraph: "I know she is either here or she has been here. I know someone has seen her. I know. I stare. I know. I stare."

The narrator does a lot of staring in the book - he seems to be always staring at something or other. But the constant repetition is very annoying after a while. I have noticed that he does it in his other book "Bright Shiny Morning" too - so it appears to be one of his literary techniques.

(MEMO TO THE AUTHOR: drop the repetition - it's pointless and irritates the reader)

I also didn't believe in the hero of the book - James Frey himself. The narrator swaggers into the rehab centre with lots of attitude - is monosyllabic and resentful but still attracts a fan following of people who really like and love him. Goodness knows how he worked that one.

There is also too much preaching about philosophy and our hero rejects the concept of God and Christianity but latches onto some wishy- washy Tao philosophy and gives little quotes from his Tao text - which to me seemed just vacuous mutterings - but to him they were jewels of wisdom. Each to his own, I suppose; but his mini rants do get up your nose after a while.

It is very hard to like the narrator - he is boorish, arrogant and not believable - almost a sociopath (judging by the nasty tricks he's pulled on people during his life) - living his life hating everyone - but at the end of the book there he is putting his arms around people and loving them all. It was not credible.

Oh and his mother is always crying - whenever he speaks to her - there she is having a sob - down the phone sobbing, in the waiting room sobbing away, in the counselling room sobbing quietly- it's all too much crying.

I was not convinced that this book was a real account of anything other than the writer's sense of self importance and conceit. It's a good read but I would not recommend it to anyone - least those who are really suffering with the problems he describes in the book.

This book has put me off reading anything else by this author - I simply don't believe a word he says - his writing is too self-consciously stylised for effect and renders it redundant and irritating.

Yuk.
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3.0 out of 5 stars a great piece iof fiction..., 13 Jan. 2012
James Frey's account of addiction is honest and leaves no grimy details spared. Unlike other books of a smiliar subject I have read, Frey does not try to glamourise or sexualise addiction in any way. He tells the degrading, embarassing, frightening and demoralising truth of living as an addict. His anger, resentment, fear, volatility and self hatred are believable and reflect the truth in his journey of addiction and recovery. His writing style is that of an established author, that keeps one turning the pages. However....

... I feel this book is a heavy, weighty drop of oily truth, thoroughly diluted into a sizeable pond of fabrication. It all reads far to like a Hollywood Movie, comparable to 'One flew over the cuckoo's nest' - with rival/enemy 'Leonard' transforming into an adopted 'Father' I found this conclusion rather predictable, weightless and 'cheesey' for want of a more refined word. The same can be said for the concluding relationship with his parents. Going from grossly uncomfortable with their presence to hugging them and exchanging 'I love you's'that had never before been said. The 'fight' watched on TV towards the end of the book, where there is cheering and whooping and a suprise 'party' with lobster, and steak ordered by a once cranky, authorative 'Lincoln' for Leonards departure is once again resemblant of 'Murphy' in 'One flew over the cuckoos nest', it becomes a little unbelievable and fictitious.

Frey's writing style can be 'annoying' with the constant repetition, it is obviously used for effect, perhaps to depict his mind state, however it is a bit of a wasted technique as it doesnt have the power intended and becomes frustrating.

However, The non-acceptance of the '12 steps' 'let go and let go' mantra is refreshing and honest. It gives hope to those reading it with personal experience of addiction that 'AA IS NOT the only way' I like his candour that ultimately it is HIS choice, HIS responsibility and not the fault of his parents or genetics and believes he can only recover with accpetance of responsibility and self will.

Overall, an interesting, honest, raw, painful and insightful read that offers the reader the horror and truth of being an addict, and a look at the slow, painful process of recovery. Frey is a good writer and I enjoyed this book, however I feel it should have perhaps been advertised as 'BASED on a true story' rather than claiming to be fully autobiographical.

I dont think i shall be reading the follow ups......
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately disappointing, 29 Dec. 2009
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? I thought that was a really interesting part of his story and I wanted to know more. What was disappointing was that his story wasn't completely real and one of my reasons for finishing the book was because I wanted to find out about his alternative to the 12 steps. I don't feel enlightened.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Failed to live up to synopsis, 22 Jan. 2014
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Slightly disappointed - not too keen on the narrative style and found it rather dull compared to other novels on similar subject
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does it matter?, 20 Feb. 2006
I feel that people who slate James Frey for fabricating some details are missing the point of A Million Little Pieces as I was more directly moved by the essence of the book.
It is about his journey from the darkest point in his life to self-discovery. He makes a very interesting and valid point about the AA’s twelve steps programme and the logic and simplicity of making choices. I do not think he was trying to boast about his experiences, so much as to get a point across about his beliefs and what he discovered about himself. Consequently I shall forgive him this, merely because through what he says whether fiction or fact I have learnt a great deal more than I ever have from picking up a self-help book!
If people bring in to question the accuracy of truth in a biography or auto-biography, there opens a great precipice of questions. How can we distinguish fact from fiction when memory alters fact on a daily basis and the media alters fact on an hourly basis? I think it’s sad that Frey wasn’t more honest about events in the first place, but I can understand why he did it and A Million Little Pieces will always hold pride of place on my bookshelf because it is an oringal, intriguing and thought provoking read.
Plus I do feel that James Frey deserves a bit of respect for standing up and letting himself be counted. He has received his criticism graciously and openly acknowledges his responsibility in what has happened.
I urge you to read it and judge for yourself!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 7 Aug. 2013
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Colin D. Paton (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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On my second read of this book and it strikes me so strongly in such a place that I feel like I should write some words about it, and hopefully consider others to read this incredible novel. It is simply beautiful - sometimes clunky, sometimes unbearable - but absolutely brutally honest and dark, with some of the most powerful sections of prose which I've ever read. Frey isn't even a character to hate: he asks for no forgiveness for his deeds and the darkest parts of him, doesn't expect anyone to not be horrified by what he has done, and is so open of this that is becomes incredibly easy to connect to the emotions he writes about. The scattered, imperfect, stream-of-consciousness style helps in this, and makes the most painful sections even bolder, leaving the finished product genuinely emotional and gut-clenching. Highly recommended, the kind of book which will change the way you think, affect you, and haunt you long after you have read it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writer, 18 Feb. 2012
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J. Smith (uk) - See all my reviews
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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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fiction, 13 Mar. 2010
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If your'e into fiction this book may just entertain you, Frey underestimates his readers intelligence when he writes this story that leaves so many unbelievable questions unanswered like for instance which airline would actually take on an injured obviously drunk/drugged up individual alone without medical supervision, who bought him the ticket, which detox centre that relys on the 12 steps would allow a patient to stay there without taking part in the only proven method to help addicts recover. Im sorry but I don't believe a word of this book and if your'e thinking of buying something simmilar have a look at Mark Johnson's WASTED a true accurate account of a similar story.
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