As an avid writer, who was definitely affected by this authors (James Frey) use of grammar and rules of the English language, I feel the need to begin this critique/review from the perspective of a fellow writer and proofreader of modern literature and art. If you don’t care to hear me analyze the novel like a perfectionist teacher then I suggest you scroll down a few paragraphs. That being said, A Million Little Pieces book almost (almost) and I must repeat ALMOST made me never want to try and break the grammar rules in writing ever again for effect and in addition it ALMOST made me lose respect for all of my favorite bookstores that had put it out on the display to push its sales, which to me, is deeming it a book of award winnable status.
How enjoyable are the following sentences to read?
I went to my work and I sat at my desk and I turned my computer on. I sat at my desk. I sat at my desk and turned my computer on. It was cold and it was quiet and it was dark. It was cold and it was quiet and it was dark. I sat at my desk.
Annoying? I personally think so. And this is how James Frey writes in A Million Little Pieces book…about a third of the way through. I do understand it is stream of consciousness writing. But it is tedious and elementary and I guess I’m a writing snob but the poor use of run-on language irked me so much that I had to start the book 3 different times before finally pushing myself to get to at least the middle section. And now, with due credit to the author, I will admit that I misjudged the book and was too critical of Mr. Frey. Because in actuality, everything was well done, so well done in fact that dear James and his rehab friends captivated me so intensely that I began to find the bad attempt at modern rule-breaking writing adorable. It made me want to date the guy. This book is phenomenal and so extremely true that I got chills as I read the last half of the beautiful conglomeration of words. I have lived at several clinics like this one in Minnesota, but instead, for mental illness, and the way James shows (and not just tells) us how you go through a wild roller coaster of emotions trying to adapt to a place that forces you to face your fears with people who you are totally different from and never would speak to on the “outside” is brilliant and so so true. And what touched me the most in the A Million Little Pieces book, perhaps because the same thing happened to me, is his relationship with Lily, another resident. I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t read it yet, but they sneak out together and end up falling in love. Without barely speaking 100 words to one another. People might find this unrealistic but something really magical happens when you are in treatment and you interact with other people going through the same things. You develop bonds so so fast and quickly you find yourself counting on these strangers even more than you’d rely on your counselors for support. In treatment, I truly believe, you meet your lifelong true friends. It’s a beautiful beautiful thing.
So, to sum it up, the A Million Little Pieces book really impressed me and after finally getting into the book, my writing snobbery and picky critique tendencies were instantly humbled. For I only wish I could pull off such a great work of writing as James Frey did in the A Million Little Pieces book while virtually breaking all traditional rules of the classic grammar system. He really did a fantastic job. And the very last page absolutely broke my heart and sent me into an mess of tears.
And even though The Smoking Gun busted James Frey for fraudulently producing A Million Little Pieces book as a piece of “non-fiction” that was actually entirely made up, it still doesn’t change the quality of the writing and the captivating essence of the story. Whether it really happened or not, the story managed to entertain and fascinate thousands of readers, including Oprah, and so, then, does it really matter if it wasn’t real? I admit I was slightly pissed off at first, and disappointed more than anything, and I do believe he deserved all the retribution he received for lying, but let’s face it, the literature was phenomenally done- bottom line. Fact or fiction, it still impressed.