- Paperback: 430 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; First Paperback Edition edition (September 22, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307276902
- ISBN-13: 978-0307276902
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,205 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Million Little Pieces Paperback – September 22, 2005
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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.
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
“Gripping.... A great story.... You can't help but cheer his victory.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“James Frey’s staggering recovery memoir could well be seen as the final word on the topic.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“The most lacerating tale of drug addiction since William S. Burroughs’ Junky.” —The Boston Globe
“Frey’s book sets itself apart ... spare, deadpan language belies the horror of what he’s describing — a meltdown dispatched in telegrams.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Anyone who has ever felt broken and wished for a better life will find inspiration in Frey’s story.” —People
“Ripping, gripping.... It’s a staggeringly sober book whose stylistic tics are well-suited to its subject matter, and a finger in the eye of the culture of complaint.... Engrossing.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A frenzied, electrifying description of the experience.” —The New Yorker
“We finish A Million Little Pieces like miners lifted out of a collapsed shaft: exhausted, blackened, oxygen-starved, but alive, thrillingly, amazingly alive.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“One of the most compelling books of the year.... Incredibly bold.... Somehow accomplishes what three decades’ worth of cheesy public service announcements and after-school specials have failed to do: depict hard-core drug addiction as the self-inflicted apocalypse that it is.” —The New York Post
“Thoroughly engrossing.... Hard-bitten existentialism bristles on every page.... Frey’s prose is muscular and tough, ideal for conveying extreme physical anguish and steely determination.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Incredible.... Mesmerizing.... Heart-rending.” —Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A rising literary star ... has birthed a poetic account of his recovery. [A Million Little Pieces is] stark ... disturbing ... rife with raw emotion.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Frey will probably be hailed in turn as the voice of a generation.” —Elle
“We can admire Frey for his fierceness, his extremity, his solitary virtue, the angry ethics of his barroom tribe, and his victory over his furies.... A compelling book.” —New York
“An intimate, vivid and heartfelt memoir. Can Frey be the greatest writer of his generation? Maybe.” —New York Press
“Incredible.... A ferociously compelling memoir.” —The Plain Dealer
“Insistent as it is demanding.... A story that cuts to the nerve of addiction by clank-clank-clanking through the skull of the addicted.... A critical milestone in modern literature.” —Orlando Weekly
“At once devastatingly bleak and heartbreakingly hopeful.... Frey somehow manages to make his step-by-step walk through recovery compelling.” —Charlotte Observer
“A stark, direct and graphic documentation of the rehabilitation process.... The strength of the book comes from the truth of the experience.” —The Oregonian
“A virtual addiction itself, viscerally affecting.... Compulsively readable.” —City Paper (Washington, DC)
“Powerful ... haunting ... addictive.... A beautiful story of recovery and reconciliation.” —Iowa City Press-Citizen
“An exhilarating read.... Frey’s intense, punchy prose renders his experiences with electrifying immediacy.” —Time Out New York
“Describes the hopelessness and the inability to stop with precision.... As anyone who has ever spent time in a rehab can testify ... he gets that down too.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Frey comes on like the world’s first recovering-addict hero.... [His] criticism of the twelve-step philosophy is provocative and his story undeniably compelling.” —GQ
“[A] gruesomely absorbing account, told in stripped-down, staccato prose.” —Details
“Frey has devised a rolling, pulsating style that really moves ... undeniably striking.... A fierce and honorable work that refuses to glamorize [the] author’s addiction or his thorny personality.... A book that makes other recovery memoirs look, well, a little pussy-ass.” —Salon
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The last half of the book gets much better. He starts getting his stuff together and his relationships with Lilly and Leonard are gripping. I would recommend, but I do believe this book will not be for everyone
The sequel to this My Friend Leonard is equally as captivating, and heartbreaking. I will definitely read this over and over for years to come.