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4.1 out of 5 stars
A Million Little Pieces (Oprah's Book Club)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2006
Our book club recently picked three very good books. Okay, great books. And of these three, A MILLION LITTLE PIECES was probably our favorite. And yes, we went into it with eyes wide open, knowing that it was once stated as being true and now is at least partial fiction. The account, journey, or whatever you want to call it, whether real or not, is expertly portrayed.
The sad thing is, this is just as good a fiction read as it was/is supposed to be as "truth." Knowing (or not) how the world works, I don't blame Frey for this "switch" that was done--I'm sure he didn't have as much to do with it as some might suspect. Which leads me to one of the other books that our club thought was great. "Katzenjammer" by Jackson McCrae. We had no idea what this one was going to be about, but guess what? I was about the BOOK PUBLISHING INDUSTRY! And we read it right after AMLP. It couldn't have been more eye-opening, for it told us how things get made into books and what someone (one person in this case) has had to do to "get in." I highly recommend this one--Katzenjammer--as a companion book to AMLP. The third book we read was called "Naked" by Sedaris, and it was extremely funny and knowing. I recomend all three, but AMLP just left me, well . . . blown away. HIGHLY recommended truth or not!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2006
In light of what has happened regarding Mr. Frey's two books, I feel the responsibility for fact checking is the responsibility of Doubleday and also of Oprah's staff. I feel that Mr. Frey got caught up in all that there is with having a best selling book. Yes, he should not have lied but his books needed to be classified in another category and again the responsibility of the publisher. This is not the first time that this has happened with publishing corporations. Mr. Frey was used as a scapgoat and publicly humiliated. I read Million Little Pieces and bought copies for several people and have just purchased My Friend Leonard. I will continue to read all the books that Mr. Frey writes, still, I can't imagine why people haven't figured out "what's going on" in the publishing world and places such as Hollywood. A good example is McCrae's book "katzenjammer" which tells exactly this sort of thing-what someone has to go through to get their book published and then what "they" do to it to sell it. Or the book "The Man who invented Rock Hudson" is another which shows the inside workings of the corporations and their lack of ethics, etc. I would recommend the following books to see how people really got where they are: "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" and McCrae's "Katzenjammer." And I would still recommmend AMLP whether or not you believe everything in it. Still a good book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2006
Like so many things in life, not everbody likes the same things. If a book is well written and interesting then I feel it should be judged as such, not judged because someone of self importance put their stamp of approval on it. When one stops and thinks how much is embellished in today's world, appearances, life history, names, all to make one seem more exciting. I am not saying this is right but more of a fact. The book should not have been passed off as a true account of the author's experiences, yes there is some truth and some fiction. All in All it is a very good book, so read up and enjoy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
A MILLION LITTLE PIECES is a good, quick read that explores a life pulling itself out of the maw of oblivion. Drug use and addiction are devastating on a person's life and all those around him. What makes this book so entertaining is the degree to which Frey had destroyed his life and how horrific the struggle to reclaim it has been. There are moments of brutally graphic honesty and unclothed emotion. But above all the book speaks about strength and weakness - how much punishment the body can take or dish out. While Frey is the center of the story, it is the people at the clinic, both patients and staff (as well as his parents) that show addiction to have consequences outside one's self. Funny and knowing like McCrae's KATZENJAMMER and probing and honest like RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, PIECES is by far the best thing I've read this year. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2006
Like so many things in life, not everbody likes the same things. If a book is well written and interesting then I feel it should be judged as such, not judged because someone of self importance put their stamp of approval on it. When one stops and thinks how much is embellished in todays world, appearances, life history, names, all to make one seem more exciting. I am not saying this is right but more of a fact. The book should not have been passed off as a true account of the author's experiences, yes there is some truth and some fiction. All in All it is a very good book, so read up and enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2007
Anyone wanting to know about addiction will want to read this book. True, it has come out that Frey made this up, but what is so amazing is that it still rings true, that is still paints an accurate picture of addiction. Probably the reason for this is that Frey is an admitted adict. Okay, so the "stories" about the rehab aren't correct, but the feeling is there. And no wonder he was told to go back and make this a memoir after offering it up as fiction. His book, My Friend Leonard is a similiar venu, as is McCrae's Katzenjammer and the book Smashed, another great read. Now that the hoopla has died down, perhaps people will simply read this book and enjoy it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2005
This is an absorbing gritty novel that I found very hard to put down, but also found myself wondering about. The author lays the awful truth of drug addiction on the line, along with hard truth that the addict must face when going through detox, but there does not seem to be any conclusion beyond "this is what happened." I would like to know more about why, at least why the author thinks this happened to him. The book deserves the praise it is getting, it is well written, but it is kind of like watching a car wreck. You want to look away but can't, and then there are no answers.
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on May 25, 2011
I do, Sort of. But what I remember most was Oprah. Everyone always remembers Oprah because she has serial killers on her show one day and writers who obscure the truth the next.

James Frey received critical acclaim--a National Bestseller-- for his book, A Million Little Pieces, a perfect title for a book which would effectively make his life fall into such. I rarely re-read books which don't steal me by surprise but I found it on my bookshelf, sitting beside books I appreciate to a much higher degree, grabbed it and opened it to the first page:

"I wake to the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin. I lift my hand to feel my face. My front four teeth are gone. I have a hole in my cheek, my nose is broken and my eyelids are swollen nearly shut."

Frey recognizes, through those swollen eyelids and with a hole in his cheek, that he is on a plane. Red flag. What sort of man ends up on a plane, without a chaperone, with a goddamn hole in his cheek? Surely Oprah might have questioned this. But a memoir is a memoir and a memoir isn't always factual. (Please note: The Third Sunrise, fortunately or fortunately, is) The bible, I'm holding my breath here, is also not factual. Frey scared all future memoirists with his tryst down memory---lack thereof----lane.

Search: A Million Little Pieces on Google. The first two pages: Wikipedia and, what a surprise, Oprah come up. Oprah seems to find her way into every controversy.

Wikipedia states:

"A Million Little Pieces is a semi-fictional memoir by James Frey"

Oprah's website has Frey sitting on her plush couch trying to explain how addiction erodes memoir etc etc while Oprah has her leg crossed, she stares at Frey, and her eyes could kill. See picture below. Nothing is worse for your career then pissing off Oprah. Ask James.

Oprah states (and I am stifling a laugh over here because the Guy in The Other Room is still sleeping):

"James Frey is here and I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you because I feel really duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers. I think it's such a gift to have millions of people to read your work and that bothers me greatly. So now, as I sit here today I don't know what is true and I don't know what isn't. So first of all, I wanted to start with The Smoking Gun report titled, "The Man Who Conned Oprah" and I want to know--were they right?"

James responds, deadpan:

"I think most of what they wrote was pretty accurate. Absolutely"

What a brilliant response, truly. Bravo James.

She goes on and interrogates him like he has just killed someone. I must ask: why did she not notice that he had no visible scarring on his face? Would a hole in your face not leave a scar? Maybe addicts have great dental care in America.

Why am I bothering to re-hash this? Simply because in the first few pages of the newest edition of A Million Little Pieces, Frey explains that certain things were embellished for the benefit and readability of the book.

His (past) publisher Doubleday states:

"We bear responsibility for what we publish, and apologize to the reading public for any unintentional confusion surrounding A Million Little Pieces"

So, here's what we have:

-A seething Oprah angry because she has been made to look a little gullible. Oprah, understandably, does not want to be seen as anything but absolutely correct. She is a monarchy in her own right.

-James Frey, maybe a little embarrassed, but if any publicity is good publicity he couldn't have planned this any better. The book goes on to sell another million copies and as such, his life remains in piece.

-As for Doubleday, well, they went ahead and took James of the list of clientele. He finds another publisher and off he goes, broken nose and all.

Case in point: a man with a bleeding hole in his cheek would probably not be on an airplane.

[...]

Sincerely,
Natalie

[...]
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As soon as I picked up this book, I was hooked. There is an urgency about it that mirrors the anti-hero's addiction. I couldn't wait to pick it up, I couldn't put it down, I needed more (or as James Frey would say, more more more). Even the Gertrude Stein-like repetition seemed almost hypnotic. There were times when I cringed, doubled up in vicarious pain, winced at the inevitable. But the rawness and honesty of it had me enthralled. It is sparse, harsh, uncluttered, unpretentious, unsentimental. James' rejection of the 12 step philosophy in favour of the tao te ching was an interesting twist on the tired theme of recovery. I loved it without reservation. Its a very filmic book but all I can say is - bring on the movie.
It wasn't till I read some other reviews on Amazon that I thought hmmm, maybe some of those cliche's were a little too much.... but if this book catches your eye, don't pay attention to any scathing or cynical reviews you might see. Just read it and make up your own mind. If you have any experience with addiction, your heart will beat in time.
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on December 18, 2003
First off, let me get something off my chest ... the "Top 1000" review really irritates me. She seems to base her review on her own bouts with addiction and there is thinly veiled resentment towards Mr. Frey that he had parents that cared (he, on the other hand, didn't even want their help, partially out of shame for what he had become). Additionally, she mocks his writing style, which maybe *she* doesn't like but I felt it works quite well for him. She also called him spoiled, implying that he took a whiny tone throughout the book and that this is some tale of a Hollywood star going to a recreational center. Let me tell you though - this is the story of Frey going to the edge of life or death. The characters are hard-core, the settings often disturbing. Imagine you are an addict and have been told if you drink one more drink you will die. That is basically the choice that Frey faces. So I don't know what bug Ms. Top 1000 reviewer got up her butt, but she completely misrepresents the story. There, I got that off my chest! :) For me, I enjoyed the book thoroughly and it was quite thought provoking for me.
This book is great on several levels:
1) It is a fascinating story, well told using a unique writing style.
2) It gives a different solution for dealing with addiction. Frey realizes that he could not use traditional crutches such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc. and that he must take a different (and non-sanctioned, non-recommended) path or philosophy towards recovery.
3) The other characters he meets along the way are also quite interesting and lend a lot to the story. It is interesting to hear what happens to them in real life.
Just a good read all around, especially if you have had any interest in addiction.
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