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James Frey is originally from Cleveland. He is the bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard. He lives in New York.
Adult/High School-Frey's high school and college years are a blur of alcohol and drugs, culminating in a full-fledged crack addiction at age 23. As the book begins, his fed-up friends have convinced an airline to let him on the plane and shipped him off to his parents, who promptly put him in Hazelden, the rehabilitation clinic with the greatest success rate, 20 percent. Frey doesn't shy away from the gory details of addiction and recovery; all of the bodily fluids make major appearances here. What really separates this title from other rehab memoirs, apart from the author's young age, is his literary prowess. He doesn't rely on traditional indentation, punctuation, or capitalization, which adds to the nearly poetic, impressionistic detail of parts of the story. Readers cannot help but feel his sickness, pain, and anger, which is evident through his language. Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Viking, 1962) seems an apt comparison for this work-Frey maintains his principles and does not respect authority at all if it doesn't follow his beliefs. And fellow addicts are as much, if not more, help to him than the clinicians who are trying to preach the 12 steps, which he does not intend to follow in his path to sobriety. This book is highly recommended for teens interested in the darker side of human existence.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Frey is pretender to the throne of the aggressive, digressive, cocky Kings David: Eggers and Foster Wallace. Pre-pub comparisons to those writers spring not from Frey's writing but from his attitude: as a recent advance profile put it, the 33-year-old former drug dealer and screenwriter "wants to be the greatest literary writer of his generation." While the Davids have their faults, their work is unquestionably literary. Frey's work is more mirrored surface than depth, but this superficiality has its attractions. With a combination of upper-middle-class entitlement, street credibility garnered by astronomical drug intake and PowerPoint-like sentence fragments and clipped dialogue, Frey proffers a book that is deeply flawed, too long, a trial of even the most nave reader's credulousness-yet its posturings hit a nerve. This is not a new story: boy from a nice, if a little chilly, family gets into trouble early with alcohol and drugs and stays there. Pieces begins as Frey arrives at Hazelden, which claims to be the most successful treatment center in the world, though its success rate is a mere 17%. There are flashbacks to the binges that led to rehab and digressions into the history of other patients: a mobster, a boxer, a former college administrator, and Lilly, his forbidden love interest, a classic fallen princess, former prostitute and crack addict. What sets Pieces apart from other memoirs about 12-stepping is Frey's resistance to the concept of a higher power. The book is sure to draw criticism from the recovery community, which is, in a sense, Frey's great gimmick. He is someone whose problems seem to stem from being uncomfortable with authority, and who resists it to the end, surviving despite the odds against him. The prose is repetitive to the point of being exasperating, but the story, with its forays into the consciousness of an addict, is correspondingly difficult to put down. (Apr. 15) Forecast: Gus Van Sant, director of Drugstore Cowboy and Good Will Hunting, is negotiating to bring Pieces to the screen, so wise readers will not commit to 400 pages but wait for the 96-minute version, but booksellers should stock up as the chiseled Frey hits the interview circuit. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Who are you if you wake up on a plane, you don't know where it's going or where you've been, your front four teeth are gone, blood is all over your face and hands, and there's a hole the size of a finger in your cheek? You are Frey, 23, an alcoholic since ten and a crackhead for about as long, as well as a criminal wanted in three states, and you are just about to realize that you are fucked-royally. So, where do you go from here? Frey learns that his plane is going to Chicago, where his parents will meet him in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to go into rehab, and he agrees, knowing that there might not be another chance to say yes. He tells the rest of his story in the same gruesome detail, reconstructing how he got clean and sober. Although facets of Alcoholics Anonymous helped him, he ultimately rejects the 12-step program as anything he would be able to use, preferring to see his alcoholism as a personal weakness rather than a disease. Whatever his choices, they were effective enough to keep him sober for the last nine years. Luckily, he had many brain cells to spare, as this raw and intense book reveals a rare author whose approach to memoir writing is as original as his method to getting straight. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/02.]-Rachel Collins, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"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 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 "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 "An intimate, vivid and heartfelt memoir. Can Frey be the greatest writer of his generation? Maybe." --New York Press "Incredible.... A ferociously compelling memoir." --The 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