A Million Little Pieces
James Frey, 2003
In 2006, this book and its author became the subject of a highly publicized controversy—after Oprah had selected it as one of her books. It was revealed that parts of his "memoir" were fabricated.
A Million Little Pieces is James Frey's scorching account of his descent into the hell of addiction and the brutal journey to recovery. When he arrives at a famous clinic in Minnesota, he is nearly dead from a decade of drug and alcohol abuse so spectacular even doctors who have spent their entire careers treating addicts are amazed. He took everything he could find, and as much as possible: Cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth, PCP, glue, and alcohol in quantities so great he blacked out every day for years. His body is shot, and his mind is in an almost constant rage of self-hatred and destructiveness. He is wanted in three states for crimes ranging from DUI and resisting arrest to assaulting an officer, attempted incitement of a riot, and felony mayhem. He has, as they say, hit bottom. A few more drinks, the doctors tell him, will kill him.
His ordeal inside the clinic is hardly less harrowing. Balancing on the razor's edge between hope and despair, Frey describes the writhing delusions of withdrawal, the constant need of addictions screaming to be fed, and the blinding Fury that overtakes him and makes him want to run. That he completely rejects the clinic's Twelve Steps program makes his recovery seem even less likely. But he meets a fellow patient, Leonard, who will not give up on him, his brother gives him a copy of the Tao Te Ching, which speaks to him more profoundly than anything he reads in the AA literature, and he falls in love with Lilly, a beautiful and doomed crack addict. In them he finds reasons to try to heal himself. And he insists, in a gesture either heroic or just plain stubborn, that whatever the sources of his addictions might be, he will place the responsibility for his life and its disasters, the pain he's caused himself and others, squarely on his own shoulders. He will stay sober not by attending AA meetings in church basements, or praying to a god he can't believe in, but by deciding not to act on his addictions. A recipe for failure, his counselors tell him, but a risk he decides he has to take.
In writing that jumps off the page with all the rawness and immediacy of life, A Million Little Pieces is an unforgettable act of self-witnessing and a terrifying account of what the human spirit can destroy, endure, and overcome. (From the publisher.)
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