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
Frey is pretender to the throne of the aggressive, digressive, cocky Kings David: Eggers and Foster Wallace. Pre-pub comparisons to those writers spring not from Frey's writing but from his attitude: as a recent advance profile put it, the 33-year-old former drug dealer and screenwriter "wants to be the greatest literary writer of his generation." While the Davids have their faults, their work is unquestionably literary. Frey's work is more mirrored surface than depth, but this superficiality has its attractions. With a combination of upper-middle-class entitlement, street credibility garnered by astronomical drug intake and PowerPoint-like sentence fragments and clipped dialogue, Frey proffers a book that is deeply flawed, too long, a trial of even the most nave reader's credulousness-yet its posturings hit a nerve. This is not a new story: boy from a nice, if a little chilly, family gets into trouble early with alcohol and drugs and stays there. Pieces begins as Frey arrives at Hazelden, which claims to be the most successful treatment center in the world, though its success rate is a mere 17%. There are flashbacks to the binges that led to rehab and digressions into the history of other patients: a mobster, a boxer, a former college administrator, and Lilly, his forbidden love interest, a classic fallen princess, former prostitute and crack addict. What sets Pieces apart from other memoirs about 12-stepping is Frey's resistance to the concept of a higher power. The book is sure to draw criticism from the recovery community, which is, in a sense, Frey's great gimmick. He is someone whose problems seem to stem from being uncomfortable with authority, and who resists it to the end, surviving despite the odds against him. The prose is repetitive to the point of being exasperating, but the story, with its forays into the consciousness of an addict, is correspondingly difficult to put down. 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 ›
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.
Then I felt like a player in a poker game with a mirror behind my back. The book is in no way a memoir, the lies become so obvious after a while that it's insulting to the reader. His style is intriguing at first, then it becomes tiresome and tedious. The glowing reviews astound me. The positive side is that I see now that anyone can write a book. Now if I could only get on Oprah's book list. And maybe we need a treatment program for Oprah addicts. Cheap pulp fiction at it's best.
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This book seems like complete fiction -and bad fiction at that. I'm stunned that Oprah's group didn't do any research - no airline would let this guy on the plane covered in vomit and blood. No rehab facility would let meals be catered, patients gamble to televised football games nor, especially, let one of the patients lead a counselor into a crackhouse in search of a patient that left the facility. James Frey is a failed screenwriter that came up with his best dose of fiction and a lot of desperate people bought it. Funny how the "people" or should I say "characters" that could have exposed him are all dead. I doubt that any really existed, particulary "Leonard" the mobster who says the author is the toughest kid he'd ever met. Pure, awful, dangerous fiction.
I actually finished this book about 2 weeks ago. Sorry to jump on the band wagon this late in the game. I work in the addictions field. While reading this book, I never comtemplated the author's legal issues as being truthful or untruthful. I did however, find his story of his treatment to be quite unbelievable. First, what rang false for me was the author's depiction of the emergency dental care under the watchful eye of the unnamed treatment facility we know now to be Hazelden. As an addictions' treatment professional with 20 years experience, I cannot for the life of me fathom why a dentist was prohibited from using novacaine to treat some serious injuries and HOW a dentist agreed to that. What treatment center would make that a condition of allowing their patients to receive adequate dental care? Novacaine is NOT addictive. It is not mood-altering. It is not, as some would believe, related to cocaine. Second: Hazelden has the reputation of being a pretty expensive facility which offers good, thorough treatment. According to Mr. Frey's book, there was a sorry lack of true treatment professionals coupled with a lack of structure. There are scenes depicted in the book when counselors felt free to share private patient information with the other patients (a violation of a federal law, by the way). This facility was apparantly a place where patients were allowed to have private, catered parties, leave the facility frequently for romantic trysts, and go on rescue missions to the local crack house (accompanied by Hazelden staff !!???). All with staff knowledge. Sorry, that just didn't happen.
I understand that ALL treatment programs are flawed. It is a fact of life and a factor in helping addicts to receive adequate help.Read more ›
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