Wow. That was an unsettling book.
This was definitely not a relaxing read, but it was gripping, that's for sure.
A Million Little Pieces is Frey's account of his six weeks in rehab. He was addicted to alcohol, crack, glue. You name it. The book opens with Frey waking up on a plane, with no idea of how he got there. "My front four teeth are gone, I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyes are swollen nearly shut."
From the very first lines, my heart was racing, due to a combination of morbid fascination in the story, incredulity, and Frey's writing technique. His sentences are bursts of words, thoughts running through his head and rapid-fire descriptions of moments.
I want a drink. I want fifty drinks. I want a bottle of the purest, strongest, most destructive, most poisonous alcohol on Earth. I want fifty bottles of it. I want crack, dirty and yellow and filled with formaldehyde. I want a pile of powder meth, five hundred hits of acid, a garbage bag filled with mushrooms, a tube of glue bigger than a truck, a pool of gas large enough to drown in. I want something anything whatever however as much as I can.
Usually I would find this style distracting - no punctuation in dialogues, for example, makes me stop and think and then I get mad that I am missing the story - but it wasn't too distracting in this case - maybe because I was so horrified by the actual goings-on that I didn't bother focusing on style as much. For example, the part where James has to have a double root canal? Major, horrifying surgery - awake and with no painkillers? His description of the agony of that experience made my stomach (and mouth) hurt. His conversations with his parents are crushing - I felt like I should loook away. His misery and honesty throughout the book were almost overwhelming, and yet you don't get the impression that he's going for shock value. I think his reality is just plain shocking enough.
At any rate, wow. It is a brutal, devestating book. It is literally incredible that James is still alive today (and obviously doing well). I want to read Frey's new book, My Friend Leonard, which takes up the story as James leaves rehab and makes his attempt at living sober in Chicago, but I hear it is a bit of a letdown after this one, so I think I'll skip it, so as not to ruin the effect. At least for now.