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A Million Little Pieces Paperback – September 22, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1St Edition edition (September 22, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307276902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307276902
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,063 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 na‹ve 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.

More About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

The writing style is very fluid and the story is compelling.
Heartstrong
When I first heard about this book 2 years ago, I immediately put it on my wish list.
Avid Reader
I really didn't care whether he got better and I just wanted the book to end.
Samatha Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

522 of 589 people found the following review helpful By Macazonian on November 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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185 of 208 people found the following review helpful By Xzavious Reinbold on June 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
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.
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91 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on January 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
Having read Another Day in Paradise by Eddie Little, it became very obvious to me that James is living vicariously through Eddie's book. You must read Eddie's book and then you will see how clearly AMLP parallels the Little book. From the same basic characters to their almost identical pasts, I found myself becoming angered at this blatant rip-off. Lilly IS Rosie, right down to the description of the gang rape scenes in both books. As a result, I just do not believe anything in James book actually happened, other than the fact that he spent time in a rehab facility. It was all a fantasy based in large part on Eddie Little's book.

Another tip-off - on Oprah's site there is an interview with James and someone asked him the significance of the scribbles at the start of each chapter. James stated that he had wanted to start each chapter with a full page of pure black, but it would have been cost-prohibitive. Hmmmmm, Another Day in Paradise starts each chapter with a page printed half in black. Coincidence, no?

This is just so wrong.
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210 of 240 people found the following review helpful By Louise the Reader on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am an alcoholic, sober for ten years. I went through detox, rehab, AA, and all the rest. When I read this book a couple of months ago, I thought, "This is just nothing like what I went through." I bought it and intended to pass it along to my AA friends to share, but after I finished it, I didn't want to give it to anyone. It would scare anyone who was considering going into treatment, and that's a shame because treatment isn't like that. If I had pulled any of the stunts he did, I would have been out on my bum. I think the author is just needing attention badly--thus the rebellion and bad boy stunts that he tells about. In my experience, alcoholics/addicts with his attitude end up drinking/using again, because they have such a case of terminal specialness--the 12 steps work for those other losers, but I'm better than that, stronger than that. I don't need those crutches. This book is just sensationalism of the worst kind. I'm sorry I donated to James Frey by buying this book. I threw it away so it wouldn't fall into anyone else's hands.
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119 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Afan of Sitagyl Manor on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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