A good read

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey

A Million Little Pieces is the memoir of a 23-year old young man detailing the period he spent in a rehab centre recovering from extreme abuse of drug and alcohol. The book hit big time after it was chosen for the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. But soon thereafter, allegations started coming out that the author James Frey had embellished details of his stay at the clinic and his subsequent imprisonment. And so strictly speaking, the book was not an autobiography. Frey was forced to go back on the Oprah Winfrey show and apologise and his publisher offered a refund to anyone who felt cheated. So recent editions of the book carry a disclaimer from the author.

About the book itself, what can you say about the story when it's about someone's life? But some of the sections in the book read like fiction (and apparently were!). Especially the parts where Frey writes about getting his teeth and nose fixed without anesthesia is graphic in description. In the end it all works out fine and Frey has been clean for the past 13 years while most of his mates from the centre have either relapsed or taken their lives.

A Million Little Pieces stands out for its unique narrative style. Frey dispenses with trivialities like punctuations and the result is a prose that is taut and gripping. Even if some of the detail in the book was fabricated, a large portion of it was lived and endured. And that's what makes it an incredible journey. A truly awfully beautiful read.

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