BookShelf | A Million Little Pieces
All of us know that we are responsible for our lives and the decisions we make. But most of the time, we hunt for excueses to justify our failure and look for people to blame.india Updated: Nov 26, 2005 16:36 IST
All of us know that we are responsible for our lives and the decisions we make. But most of the time, we hunt for excueses to justify our failure and look for people to blame. A Million Little Pieces defines itself by the stand the protagonist takes about his life. The 23-year-old author James Frey, admitted into a drug de-addiction centre, insists on accepting sole accountability for the person he has been and the person he may become.
Wanted by authorities in three states, without ID or any money, his face mangled with missing four front teeth, Frey is on a steep descent from a dark marathon of drug abuse. His stunned family checks him into a famed Minnesota drug treatment centre where a doctor promises “he will be dead within a few days” if he starts it again, and where Frey spends two agonising months in detox. The agony is obvious when Frey cries out, “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 something anything whatever however as much as I can.” Helping him through it all are his fellow patients, which include a judge, a mobster, a one-time world-champion boxer, and a former prostitute to whom he is not allowed to speak.
Their friendship and advice strikes James as stronger and truer than the clinic’s droning dogma of how to recover. James Frey is horribly honest and funny in a young-guard Eggers and Wallace sort of way, but perhaps more contained and measured. He is unerring in his descent into a world where the characters need help in such extremely desperate ways.
Beneath the brutality of Frey’s painful process of growing up, there are simple gestures of kindness that will reduce even the most jaded to tears. The book could have benefited by being a bit shorter. Nearly 400 pages is a long time to spend under Frey’s influence, but beyond that A Million Little Pieces is a fierce account of a life destroyed and a life reconstructed.