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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.
Amazon.com 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 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
From Publishers Weekly
For as long as he can remember, Frey has had within him something that he calls "the Fury," a bottomless source of anger and rage that he has kept at bay since he was 10 by obliterating his consciousness with alcohol and drugs. When this memoir begins, the author is 23 and is wanted in three states. He has a raw hole in his cheek big enough to stick a finger through, he's missing four teeth, he's covered with spit blood and vomit, and without ID or any idea where the airplane he finds himself on is heading. It turns out his parents have sent him to a drug rehab center in Minnesota. From the start, Frey refuses to surrender his problem to a 12-step program or to victimize himself by calling his addictions a disease. He demands to be held fully accountable for the person he is and the person he may become. If Frey is a victim, he comes to realize, it's due to nothing but his own bad decisions. Wyman's reading of Frey's terse, raw prose is ideal. His unforgettable performance of Frey's anesthesia-free dental visit will be recalled by listeners with every future dentist appointment. His lump-in-the-throat contained intensity, wherein he neither sobs nor howls with rage but appears a breath away from both, gives listeners a palpable glimpse of the power of addiction and the struggle for recovery. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I have worked with alcoholics and addicts for many, many years, and I worked for the Hazelden Foundation, the treatment program the author indicates he attended. His description of the events in treatment never could have happened. All treatment centers are strictly regulated by a licensing board called the Joint Commission as well by state laws. What James Frey describes is in gross violation of these strict standards of accreditation. The treatment center would have been severely disciplined or shut down. Hazelden is one of the finest treatment centers in the world and is the pioneer of treatment as we know it today. Their treatment program is centered on respecting the dignity of each patient and preserving the safety of all who are admitted.
James Frey would not have been admitted into treatment in such terrible medical condition without first being sent to a hospital for care and then admitted only after the hospital staff granted medical clearance. He wouldn't have been given stitches in his face at the treatment center, because treatment centers aren't licensed to give that level of medical care. Yes, recovering people can use anesthetic. Anesthetic is not an addictive drug, so no one needs to endure painful dental work or stitches or surgery without masking the pain. Pain medications (which are addictive) are used when necessary, such as after major surgery.
There are no men in white coats with syringes tackling people who misbehave. People in treatment don't behave in ways the author describes. People are mostly kind, caring and thoughtful. Disagreements are generally mild in nature, and mood-swings are usually the worst we must contend with. When someone behaves in an unacceptable manner, they are asked to change their behavior or be discharged.Read more ›
It's true. Most of the positive reviews come from people working for the publisher and the author. It's an industry practice as Amazon is one of the best places to sell books and advertize them. Take a look at the following reviews from 2003, and reviews from 2005. Why would anyone spend 2.5, going on 3 years posting the same review under different names if they did not have a vested interest in the sales of this book.
Readers Addiction, April 17, 2003 Reviewer:Helen L. Motley (Ohio) - See all my reviews I was up 'til midnight reading Frey's Million Little Pieces. I woke again at 4am and read until my alarm went off.
Solid five star book, December 1, 2005 Reviewer:Donna Freuhaf (Pell Lake, WI) - See all my reviews I was up 'til midnight reading Frey's Million Little Pieces. I woke again at 4am and read until my alarm went off. ______________________________________________ Absorbing, fresh, and never cliched, April 17, 2003 Reviewer: James Frey has been getting a ton of press and hype over his debut work, and rightly deserved.
Harrowing and enlightening, bright and dark all at once, October 4, 2005 Reviewer:Thomas Watkins (Freemont, CA) - See all my reviews James Frey has been getting a ton of press and hype over his A MILLION LITTLE PIECES, and rightly deserved ______________________________________________ Please try this book, December 10, 2005 Reviewer:L.N. (Oxford, MS) - See all my reviews After having read James Frey's debut novel, my answer is an unequivocal and resounding yes.
This is an amazingly bad book. Ridiculously pretentious,vain and stupid, James Frey wallows in self-pity for many pages. And his Writing Style is a satirist's dream:
He thinks he's "Edgy" but He just doesn't Know how to Write. To write, in Words.
How to write. Words, words, words.
I'm James Frey. I'm repeating myself. Myself, myself, My Self. My Important Self. My Edgy, Drug-Addicted Self. Look At Me! My Rich Parents sent Me to Rehab and I'm Really Edgy! I'm Writing. In Sentence Fragments. That Repeat and Repeat and Repeat. And I'm really Edgy and Maudlin. And in the End I Hug and Hug and Hug and My Stupidity is really an Inspiration to Everyone. One star: Good for a laff.
I was reading it last year and got up to the scene where the dentist refuses to give him anaesthetic for his root canal out of concern that he would relapse into drug addiction. I knew this couldn't possibly be true. It was like a ripoff of Marathon Man. At that point, I realized I'd been had and threw the book away in disgust.
I acquired the book accidentally in a mistaken book club shipment and decided to give it a try. The narrator is an annoying spoiled rich kid, extremely unsympathetic. Like most junkies, he's boring. He has no interests except himself. The writing is tedious. When I caught my neighbour reading it on the subway I actually asked him in disbelief, "You LIKE that book?" (He said yes. God knows why.)
Come on, no anaesthetic for a root canal? You'll need an anaesthetic..preferably some hard drugs..in order to enjoy this ridiculous, overheated, overhyped book.