James Frey   A Million Little Pieces  
James Frey  
Read an Excerpt from A Million Little Pieces

Listen to James Frey read from A Million Little Pieces

Read an Essay by James Frey

In writing his shattering, beautiful memoir, A Million Little Pieces, James Frey does away with a lot of things: punctuation, standard grammar rules, 12-step programs, belief in a higher power, and, eventually, his addiction to alcohol and drugs. In doing so, he has rewritten the rules 'Recovery Memoir' and established himself as a major literary talent.

There are brutal, startling scenes in A Million Little Pieces that will leave deep bruises on even the most cynical and jaded reader. What's interesting is that the most affecting scenes (for me at least) are not gratuitously violent. They're not graphically explicit. They're not emotionally manipulative. They're quiet conversations between a son and his parents. But, they are some of the most devastatingly honest, heartfelt, self-loathing, eloquent and hopeful conversations one will come across in a book. They aren't 'Mom, Dad, I failed biology' confessions. More like 'Mom, Dad, I'm addicted to alcohol and crack. I'm wanted in several states. I hated you. I hate myself…' kind of confessions. On and on with list of what their son has done to himself. It's heartbreaking and inspiring. James' willingness, courage to accept the burden and the responsibility of his addiction makes readers want him to get better; to get whole again.

Be prepared for a dizzyingly painful visit to the dentist office and bloody bathroom scenes delivered in Frey's style - spare, relentless, fearless - that will doubtless overwhelm readers. Also be prepared for an amazing if doomed love story and an ending that feels like swift kick in the gut. As you'll see from his essay, one of Frey's goals is to shake readers any way he can. He succeeds because of his honesty, responsibility, a sense of humor and a greater sense of purpose. Thus, after seeing him hit bottom, the book has one last remarkable affect: one comes away hopeful.

In this edition of Bold Type, you'll be treated to an excerpt from A Million Little Pieces, an audio cut of James reading from the book along with an original essay by James.

—Coates Bateman

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  Photo credit: Danny Rothenberg

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