A Million Little Pieces is yet another inoffensive light comedy by one of our contemporary writers.
OK, I jest. It is a visceral account of a man’s withdrawal and rehabilitation from drug addiction.
It actually starts quite dramatically: a man finds himself on an airplane that’s just landed, with no idea how he got there, or where he’s just arrived, in bad physical condition and unable to walk. Immediately you are drawn in and think this is going to be a good book. But then, after 40 pages, during which he goes on about his drug addiction and begins to seek help, you realise that actually nothing in going to happen for the remaining 400 pages except a man going on and on about his drug addiction. My guess is that he at some point slips back into taking drugs, gets again into a bad state, and then returns to the rehabilitation programme. Maybe finally he learns the error of his ways. – But that’s only my guess; I’m certainly not going to be reading it to find out.
The novel is written in a very simple factual style, of the (pro)noun verb noun full stop same (pro)noun verb noun full stop variety. I suppose it is quite effective in its way, though gets tiring after 10 pages or so of the same. Perhaps it conveys the tedium and repetition of drug usage. The writer does not indent his paragraphs either. I am not sure what this is intended to convey.
The central character is distinctly unlikeable. His problems all seem of his own making and this reader couldn’t have cared less whether he got over his drug habit or not. In fact, on balance, I’d have been more satisfied to learn that he didn’t.
James Frey is, apparently, the “bad boy” of American letters. This seems largely to be based on the fact that he made part of this story about drug addiction up but pretended it was real. This has caused an outbreak of “controversy”. His publisher has offered to refund people who feel they were deceived by the book. In much the same way, I am thinking of suing Penguin Classics over the mental imbalance I suffered reading Robinson Crusoe.
Next up: We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver.