A Million Little Pieces: Oprah's Book Club

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A Million Little Pieces: Oprah's Book Club

by James Frey

September 22, 2005 | Trade Paperback |

4.2917 out of 5 rating. 192 Reviews
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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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: September 22, 2005

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307276902

ISBN - 13: 9780307276902

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– More About This Product –

A Million Little Pieces: Oprah's Book Club

by James Frey

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 448 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: September 22, 2005

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307276902

ISBN - 13: 9780307276902

About the Book

At the age of twenty-three, James Frey woke up on a plane to find his four front teeth had been knocked out. His nose was broken and there was a hole through his cheek. He had no idea where the plane was headed or what had happened over the preceding two weeks. He had been an alcoholic for ten years and a crack addict for three. When he checked into a treatment facility shortly thereafter, he was told he could either stop using or die before he reached twenty-four.
A Million Little Pieces is Frey's acclaimed account of his six weeks in rehab; fiercely honest and deeply affecting, it is one of the most graphic and immediate books ever to be written about addiction and recovery.

Read from the Book

I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin. I lift my hand to feel my face. My front four teeth are gone, I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyes are swollen nearly shut. I open them and I look around and I''m in the back of a plane and there''s no one near me. I look at my clothes and my clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood. I reach for the call button and I find it and I push it and I wait and thirty seconds later an Attendant arrives. How can I help you? Where am I going? You don''t know? No. You''re going to Chicago, Sir. How did I get here? A Doctor and two men brought you on. They say anything? They talked to the Captain, Sir. We were told to let you sleep. How long till we land? About twenty minutes. Thank you. Although I never look up, I know she smiles and feels sorry for me. She shouldn''t. A short while later we touch down. I look around for anything I might have with me, but there''s nothing. No ticket, no bags, no clothes, no wallet. I sit and I wait and I try to figure out what happened. Nothing comes. Once the rest of the Passengers are gone I stand and start to make my way to the door. After about five steps I sit back down. Walking is out of the question. I see my Attendant friend and I raise a hand. Are you okay? No. What''s wrong? I can''t really walk. If you make it to the door I can get you a chair. How far is the door? Not far. I stand. I
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From the Publisher

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.

From the Jacket

"The most lacerating tale of drug addiction since William S. Burroughs' Junky." -The Boston Globe

"Again and again, the book delivers recollections that leave the reader winded and unsteady. James Frey's staggering recovery memoir could well be seen as the final word on the topic."-San Francisco Chronicle

"A brutal, beautifully written memoir."-The Denver Post

"Gripping . . . A great story . . . You can't help but cheer his victory." -Los Angeles Times Book Review

"From the get-go, [Frey's] book sets itself a part, its narrative unspooling in short, unindented paragraphs and barely punctuated sentences whose spare, deadpan language belies the horror of what he's describing - a meltdown dispatched in telegrams." -The New York Times Book Review

"One of the best stories of transformation I've ever read. . . . Anyone who has ever felt broken and wished for a better life will find inspiration in Frey's story. This won't be the last we'll hear of him." -People

"A ripping, gripping read. 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." -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 Magazine

"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 Magazine

"An intimate, vivid and heartfelt memoir. Can Frey be the greatest writer of his generation? Maybe." -New York Press

"Incredible… A ferociously compelling memoir." -Cleveland 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

About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is also the author of My Friend Leonard. He is married and lives in New York.

From Our Editors

In January 2006, nearly three years after the original publication of his substance abuse and recovery memoir, A Million Little Pieces, author James Frey acknowledged that he "embellished many details about past experiences" and altered portions of his book.

Editorial Reviews

“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.” — 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 addi
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Bookclub Guide

US

1. A Million Little Pieces presents some unusual formal innovations: Instead of using quotation marks, each piece of dialogue is set off on its own line with only occasional authorial indications of who is speaking; paragraphs are not indented; sentences sometimes run together without punctuation; and many passages read more like poetry than prose. How do these innovations affect the pace of the writing? How do they contribute to the book''s rawness and immediacy? How is James Frey''s unconventional style appropriate for this story?

2. A Million Little Pieces is a nonfiction memoir, but does it also read like a novel? How does Frey create suspense and sustain narrative tension throughout? What major questions are raised and left unresolved until the end of the book? Is this way of writing about addiction more powerful than an objective study might be?

3. Why does the Tao Te Ching speak to James so powerfully? Why does he connect with it whereas the Bible and Twelve Steps literature leave him cold? How is this little book of ancient Chinese wisdom relevant to the issues an addict must face?

4. James is frequently torn between wanting to look into his own eyes to see himself completely and being afraid of what he might find: "I want to look beneath the surface of the pale green and see what''s inside of me, what''s within me, what I''m hiding. I start to look up but I turn away. I try to force myself but I can''t" [p. 32]. Why can''t James look himself in the eye? Why is it important that he do so? What finally enables him to see himself?

5. When his brother Bob tells James he has to get better, James replies, "I don''t know what happened or how I ever ended up like this, but I did, and I''ve got some huge fucking problems and I don''t know if they''re fixable. I don''t know if I''m fixable" [p. 131]. Does the book ever fully reveal the causes of James''s addictions? How and why do you think he ended up "like this"?

6. Why are James and Lilly so drawn to each other? In what way is their openness with each other significant for their recovery?

7. Joanne calls James the most stubborn person she has ever met. At what moments in the book does that stubbornness reveal itself most strongly? How does being stubborn help James? How does it hurt or hinder him?

8. The counselors at the clinic insist that the Twelve Steps program is the only way addicts can stay sober. What are James''s reasons for rejecting it? Are they reasons that might be applicable to others or are they only relevant to James''s own personality and circumstances? Is he right in thinking that a lifetime of "sitting in Church basements listening to People whine and bitch and complain" is nothing more than "the replacement of one addiction with another" [p. 223]?

9. What are the sources of James''s rage and self-hatred? How do these feelings affect his addictions? How does James use physical pain as an outlet for his fury?

10. How is Frey able to make the life of an addict so viscerally and vividly real? Which passages in the book most powerfully evoke what it''s like to be an addict? Why is it important, for the overall impact of the book, that Frey accurately convey these feelings?

11. When Miles asks James for something that might help him, James thinks it''s funny that a Federal Judge is asking him for advice, to which Miles replies: "We are all the same in here. Judge or Criminal, Bourbon Drinker or Crackhead" [p. 271]. How does being a recovering addict in the clinic negate social and moral differences? In what emotional and practical ways are the friendships James develops, especially with Miles and Leonard, crucial to his recovery?

12. James refuses to see himself as a victim; or to blame his parents, his genes, his environment, or even the severe physical and emotional pain he suffered as a child from untreated ear infections for his addictions and destructive behavior. He blames only himself for what has happened in his life. What cultural currents does this position swim against? How does taking full responsibility for his actions help James? How might finding someone else to blame have held him back?

13. Bret Easton Ellis, in describing A Million Little Pieces, commented, "Beneath the brutality of James Frey''s painful process, there are simple gestures of kindness that will reduce even the most jaded to tears." What are some of those moments of kindness and compassion and genuine human connection that make the book so moving? Why do these moments have such emotional power?

14. In what ways does A Million Little Pieces illuminate the problem of alcohol and drug addiction in the United States today? What does Frey''s intensely personal voice add to the national debate about this issue?

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