6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writer
Whether you believe the writer lived this life or not you cannot argue that it has been written well. A brilliant read.
Published on 18 Feb 2012 by J. Smith
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately disappointing
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...
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Sunflower
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Frey exposes his character as well as his skills as a very talented author.,
Noone had recommended this book to me. I was looking for academic books in the psychology section of a second-hand book shop when this completely different book caught my eye instead. The academic stuff can wait. It has taken me 7 months to read it, much longer than usual, partly because of a busy student lifestyle, and probably because I didn't find it utterly compulsive, I found I was able put the book down. I suppose there were parts in the book where I had to be a little patient, but I see this more as the author succeeding in his portrayal, as through repetive explicit accounts of his dreams and his morning trips to the bathroom I grew tired of his addiction. As I know very little about drug addiction and alcoholism, it helps in understanding the extent of the seriousness of addiction and the ordeals that have to be endured in rehabilitation.
It is vital that the author brought us in at the deep end. We know very little about James in the first few chapters, but you become increasingly engrossed as you gradually learn more about his character. Through his brutal honesty, openness, and his description of himself as a victim solely of his bad decisions, you begin to respect him. Also the portrayals of his relationships within the isolated treatment centre with Leonard, Miles, Lilly and Joanne convey the sheer impact of friendship, love and respect, away from the influences of outside world. You only realise how genuine these relationships actually are when you read the last two pages, because its content hits you hard and it is gutting, nevertheless realistic.
The alternative grammar (mid-sentence capitalisation, lack of quotation marks and sometimes commas, lack of indentation) adds to the raw quality of the author's account.
This is a read that plays on a vast range of emotions. Frustrating, thought-provoking, and hopeful, James Frey exposes his character as well as his skills of an excellent and deeply talented writer.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Million Little Pieces,
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A perfect example of what lengths people will go to when caught in the clutches of addiction, and what a hard path sobriety can be to follow... this is a very raw account of one person history with addiction, and how it has affected other's around him... this is the second time i've ordered this book as i lost my first copy, i would rate this as one of the best books i have ever read! I would recommend readers purchasing his follow up book 'My friend Leonard' if they enjoy this story.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling insight into the world of an addict,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Million Little Pieces (Hardcover)
I bought this book to read over the course of a 7 day holiday after having listened to an interview with the author on BBC Radio 4.
Poor choice since I read the book cover to cover on the first and second day!!
The book elicits every emotion. What absorbed me most was the authors unflinching honestly about his early life as a addict. No attempt was made to add any gloss, to glamorise any aspect or to mitigate any actions - just raw, to the bone self reflection.
Frey is ultra self critical. He steadfastly refuses to absolve himself of any blame or look for any excuses.
He frequently points to his own weakness as the source of his addictions. But for me he is characterised by strength, self belief and determination which ultimately brings him what all addicts crave most - normality.
After reading the book I fervently hope that the author is planning a follow on recounting the years post the detox centre.
I would gladly shell out again for a hardbook edition.
Sincere praise to James Frey on an outstanding literaty work.
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most moving book I've ever read,
This book came to me with a high recommendation, but in the end it undersold the book. This book moved me more than anything else I've ever read. James writes with heart wrenching honesty. I couldn't put the book down once I got a few pages into it, I wanted to see how it turned out. The strength he shows in facing and getting through the experience he has is phenomenal, quite inspirational. The experience is making me rethink things in my own life.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good 'story' from a pompous man,
I agree with one of the reviews on the inside cover of the paperback edition which calls Frey selfish, egocentric, violent & pompous. I sensed from the off that something wasn't quite right about the tale Frey was telling. Ultimately he seems more concerned with telling a good story than saying anything that may benefit other recovering addicts. His stubborn rejection of the 12 step programme made him seem like an idiot. As an adult he recalled a childhood 'prank' of him locking his pal in a box. He showed no remorse and said that he still found it funny. The passage of time had not taught him any sense of humility or to care for anyone other than himself. This recollection occured as he was reluctantly working through the early stages of the 12 steps, which he selfishly agreed to do in order to get released from rehab. I regret spending good money on this book and adding to the wealth of this odius man. I would not pay to read the sequel 'My Friend Leonard'
1.0 out of 5 stars Fake rubbish, don't waste your money,
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Theres nothing unique about the writing style: i found it babyish. When he confirmed on tv that some of the book was made up, i can't remember the words he used, but that did it for me. Oprah may say he great, but the book is crap, the story is boring, and all the way through i was thinking how on earth did he remember all of these points. Then i realised, he made it up.
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars don't get carried away by sales figures,
If there isn't one already, one day there'll be a program in which you'll type in 'drug addiction' and it will just run off a 600 page story for you. The problem is there will be no soul. It will sound like a mechanised, repetitive, marketing exercise. And that's exactly what A Million Little Pieces is. With more and more controversy surrounding the authenticity of this book, it's easy to see why people are asking for refunds. The moment you stop believing this is a life-changing alchemical book is the moment you want to turn it into a doorstop. Personally, I felt this book grating on my nerves, with it's broken record style and it's forced attempt at 'realism' and no matter how hard I tried to stop my instincts from telling me that the book was wasting my time I couldn't get past the sheer boredom of reading something so forced. Read Dan Fante instead for addiction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read.,
I can understand people feeling dissapointed when they found out that parts of this book had been fabricated, it's because when we feel something is real and imagine it actually HAPPENING it has more appeal.
But in terms of the book, it is a brilliant read. Cannot put it down.
The writing is strange, but it is fitting for the story that is being told.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Million little disappointments,
A Million Little Pieces is a great name for a book, however despite its brilliant appellation, this novel is probably one of the worst I have ever read; elements of the plot are of adolescent simplicity and perforce, highly unconvincing ; the characters are two dimensional and James Frey's continuous contempt for the use of punctuation can be preclusive to clarity, especially when many characters are speaking at one time.
With regards to a long debate of whether this memoir is fiction or non-fiction, I am incredulous at how anyone could ever have believed that this was a work of non-fiction. Its verisimilitude is questionable after two dozen pages; during my reading of this novel, I occasionally felt Frey could have produced a better memoir if a ghostwriter had written it for him.
One of the most discernible flaws of this novel is the huge repetition of the words 'and', 'I', and 'the'. The hideous repetition of these aforementioned words vitiates the quality of the prose and at times makes this novel arduous to read. However, this flaw is occasioned by Frey's own renunciation of punctuation; if he were to have used conventional punctuation: commas, semi-colons and speech marks, then the prose would not be ridden with difficulties for his readers.
Despite my criticisms, I will concede that James Frey can at times write in such a way that is appealing to many, his short sharp sentences - which although, I found otiose and prosaic- doubtlessly have an appeal for many readers who do not want a novel or a prose style that is discouragingly difficult.
Oprah Winfrey made a fool of herself with this novel and made James Frey wealthy in the process. If it were not for her recommending this novel and the ensuing cause célèbre it would not have been the success it has been. From this golden opportunity Frey has been able to gain more publishing deals and a notorious reputation that means that he continues to make vast sums of money from terrible writing.
I will be curious to see if this novel is still available, and sells in ten or fifteen years' time or whether it will be pulped just like other faddish fiction, which after a time will no longer sell because better the work of better writers has taken its place.
Instead of reading more James Frey, I would recommend Colm Tóibín, Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis, Francoise Sagan - some of many infinitely better writers whose body of work deserves greater adulation than it currently receives.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars AN IRRITATING BOOK,
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.
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A Million Little Pieces by James Frey