Monday, August 08, 2005

A Million Little Pieces

DQ reader Scott Ray demanded that I read this book. I'd never heard of it, or author James Frey, so I had no idea what to expect.

What I got was the most searing, blistering book I've ever read. Frey's unflinching look at addiction, combined with an incredible writing style, is so brilliant that it defies easy description. It's both riveting and exhausting, and it's impossible to put down--I stayed up until 3 a.m. every night until I finished.

A Million Little Pieces is a work of non-fiction, but Frey's style is very unconventional inside that categorization. His punctuation is sparse, and while it requires an initial adjustment, its effect is to accelerate the narrative beyond the pull of its words. It's a sensational technique, almost impossible to use successfully, but he does.

Of all the books I've ever read, this one shook me as much as any of them, both for the content and the sheer skill of the writing. It's fierce and poignant and an incredible story.

One note: Frey recently released a second book titled My Friend Leonard (which is also sensational), and if you want to read both of them, do not read the update on the last page of A Million Little Pieces for Leonard and Lilly (they're at the very bottom of the page), because their stories are continued in My Friend Leonard.

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