A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, Published in 2003

When his first novel, A Million Little Pieces was first published in 2003 James Frey could not have foreseen the storm of controversy it would soon provoke. (But he should have. The book sold millions but his promotion of it was dishonest to say the least.)

A Million Little Pieces is a blow by blow account of the main character James hitting the rock bottom of alcohol and drug abuse and being admitted to a strictly run rehab centre. It was punted as an actual first-hand experience of the author’s.

He arrives much the worse for wear physically and with an attitude to match. He is uncooperative from the start and never wavers from his confrontational behaviour from beginning to end of the book. This becomes tedious and tiresome for the reader.

James shows not the slightest character development at all throughout the book. If anything he becomes an even less sympathetic figure of selfishness, self-righteousness and naked aggression towards both the other patients and staff. 

All in all it is a badly written account and one is relieved to put it down.

But the real flak was still to come for James Frey. People who knew him both outside and inside rehab told a very different story. Frey had not gone through a fraction of what he claimed he had. Worse yet, he appeared on Oprah where his scam was exposed.

Only much later did she invite him back to chat about what he was up to now.

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Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, Published in 2008

It was his second book Bright Shiny Morning set in the underbelly of Los Angeles. The characters are virtually all bums, thieves, drug addicts and hookers and their lives never overcome their sordid backgrounds. It’s pretty unrelenting stuff but well written.

Frey also intersperses his narrative with ‘fun facts’ about Los Angeles that make for very interesting reading. You’ve never heard of a place so weird.
Still, James Frey seems to be now taking his work seriously and has even formed a writing and film workshop that has recently developed a suspense drama which was released about a year ago – The Number Four.

America is the land of second chances and James Frey seems to have grabbed his. Good luck to him.

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