A Million Little Pieces by James Frey has reached its fame due to significant controversy and, quite frankly, I am quite glad that Frey embellished details and made himself seem “tougher and more daring and more aggressive than in reality I was, or am”. A Million Little Pieces was really hard to take at the beginning, and the only thing that would have made it worse would have been knowing that it was all true.
A Million Little Pieces was originally written as a memoir, but we all know, thanks to Oprah, that it was greatly embellished.
James’ mantra throughout the book is:
I am an Alchoholic and a Drug Addict and a Criminal. I am worse than I have ever been in my life. I am in a Clinic somewhere in Minnesota. If I leave the Clinic my Family and my remaining friends will write me off. If I leave the Clinic my options are limited to death or Jail.
The story is intense, the writing is intense, and the reading experience is intense.
James is a 23-year-old serious, crazy, hardcore abuser of drugs. Every drug. Multiple times a day and for many years. It just about kills him, and he finds himself admitted into an Addiction Recovery Program. He is incredibly immature, antagonistic and self-absorbed, probably because his mind has been fried thoroughly and regularly since the age of 10. He is also stubborn and opinionated, two traits that he can either use to destroy himself or to redeem himself.
A Million Little Pieces seemed to essentially be written exactly how James was thinking, without any editing or improvement. At first I wondered how I was going to get through such a horribly written book, but you do get used to it, and it is the candidness and rawness of his writing that contributes a lot to its feeling.
Reading A Million Little Pieces got my heart racing and my nerves on edge…it was so raw and repulsive in the beginning that it really was just about too much for me. It put my mind into a frenzy and a depression at the same time.
Somewhere along the way, things began to mellow out, and I was able to settle in. This was a big step for me, seeing as there were whole pages that I couldn’t even finish in the beginning. I must admit that the closer that I got to the end of the book, the more that I loved it. Yes, it is dreadful, and I am afraid that some of the things that I have read in A Million Little Pieces will be etched into my brain for life, but it also felt real and powerful.
Trust me, James still terrifies me, and I wouldn’t want to run into anyone who thinks like him in a dark alley, but it was insightful and captivating to be in his head, just for a little while.