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"Laughing and Love. They are both drugs."

I have always enjoyed reading but rarely do I ever leave my comfort zone and choose books that have to deal with a darker than the typical good vs. bad storylines most books seem to be about nowadays. So when I first learned about this assignment I was determined to select a book that was not something I'd normally choose to read. Being an already picky reader didn't help the selection proccess. The night before we had to claim our book, I was about to give up and have someone else suggest one for me, when South Park came on. It's crude but funny, so when it comes on TV I feel obligated to at least watch some of it before I begin to feel my IQ drop... Anyways, it was in this particular episode that Towelie plays part in a parody about some book called A Million Little Pieces (or for the writers of South Park: A Million Little Fibers). I was almost desparate at this point so I decided to look into the actual book. Turns out it was a supposed memoir about a man's rehabilition that saved his life. There was some huge controversy that proved the book was actually more fiction than anything else. And that's how I got here
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Whenever I choose a book to read, I develop a different perspective that I keep in my mind as I read through the book, depending on what type of book it is. Generally with non-fiction, I have an unbaised, open mind about what information I am reading. With fiction, I allow myself to make judgements about the characters, guess about what will happen next, and really try to visualize what the words represent. Since this book was originally promoted as a memoir but then revealed as mostly false, I decided to read it as if it were fiction, but with a third-party perspective.

Because I chose to read the book with a more open state of mind, I think I was able to find a different meaning to the book, when most people just saw it as the troubling journey of a guy trying to overcome a bad addiction to crack and booze. Let's look at the title of this book. After scanning a few heated discussion threads started by the readers, it seemed like the overall consensus was that the title "A Million Little Pieces" was just describing the man's broken life. But after digesting what I've read, I'd say that the title is more of a metaphor for a deeper meaning in the book, which can then be broken up, and interpreted into a million little pieces.

external image 06-emerging-from-the-abyss.jpgIt's kind of obvious how a piece of art titled Emerging From the Abyss would relate to this story, but I really liked the detail put into it. I also thought it was cool how itsymbolized the guy climbing from the bottom of the ocean (rock bottom?)to the surface, towards the sunlight on the horizon.

Totem Lesson 1 by Jackson PollockI think this painting shows a deep frustration that the artist had when he was creating it, and it shows in the way the shapes and dark colors don't just mix together, they collide. It's somewhat chaotic, and you can see there were some pretty heavy emotions put into it, so it makes me feel like it's a reference to a darker part of the conscious mind. I read a line in the book, "I am not brave enough to look into my own eyes" and it made me think of this painting. Because if eyes really are the windows to the soul, then it makes sense that a man who had see and done so many horrible things through his addictions, would feel like this painting inside.

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Kinda stupid, but the author/main character writes a lot about how Razzle Dazzle Rose is his favorite color crayon, and it's my favorite too.

Plus, who would've thought a man who was addicted to crack and alcohol for most of his life liked that color the best? I had him pegged for Screamin' Green or Tumbleweed.

One of my favorite songs and it runs parallel, for the most part, with what the main character's state of mind isthroughout a large part of the book.

Recap of the Oprah/James Frey Conflict
Wish I could find a better clip, but this sums up the whole drama that went on after the book was proved false.

Eyes seem to keep being a major symbol in the book. They are constantly being used to read people, or as a way for the main character, James, to really look into himself. That is probably why, in the beginning of the book when he is admitted into a clinic, he is unable to look into his own. Without it being directly stated, being able to look into his own eyes is a symbol of the future he could have, to be able to face life as it comes, instead of hiding behind depression and substances. So when he was finally able to look into him eyes, I'll admit I felt a little bit happy for him being able to make that step.


So after doing some intense googling, it turns out that this was the article that set all of the controversy around this book in motion. After reading it, I can tell whoever wrote it was pretty ticked off that James Frey was fabricated a few things. This guy did his homework with the copy of the police reports and even went so far as to quote huge chunks of the book and compare them to other people's accounts of what happened, to get his point across. So kudos to that guy for not being afraid to call James Frey out.

I'm not a fan of Everlast, but I heard this on the radio while I was reading my book and I think the lyrics are similar to what I was thinking as I read. I didn't know a whole lot about the mind of an addict, or why someone would ever start smoking crack, but after reading in the character's point of view, I was able to have a better understanding as to what events in his life could lead to such destruction. So this song was saying the same thing I was thinking: you never really know what it's like for someone else, or what they could have gone through.

As I've read the book, I have noticed a few things that I definitely do not believe could ever happen:1- Since when are doctors ever okay with sending off a shot-up patient from the ER to an airport? I've always thought they had to call for the police in those situations.2- Even if that were somehow possible, what airline is cool with letting a bloody, unconscious junkie ride with them? I don't care if it was before they got strict after 9/11, nobody would have let him onto the plane.3- No rehabilitation center could possibly be okay with driving one of their patients in recovery to a crack house to go looking for his girlfriend.4- James Frey can not possibly be the "the only person in the world to overcome their addictions without the use of AA and religion". In the end of the book, it feels almost like he has turned himself into the hero of the story. (that part I can understand though, because that's just his perception of himself)5- The events throughout the book were too well-organized to be just an account of six weeks of a man's life. (classic fictitious storyline: rising action, climax, resolution, etc.)But after all this, I'm surprised it took people so long after the book came out to figure out the author was fudging it up a bit.

Because this guy was so anti-religion (not just an atheist, but a serious non-believer), I find it interesting that he became so attached to reading parts from The Tao, which was a book that had a collection of Taoist reflections. And while the concept of the Tao is more of a philosophy, many people do consider it to be a religion, just one that doesn't worship a deity of any sort.According to good old Wikipedia, "the object of spiritual practice is to harmonize one's will with Nature in order to achieve 'effortless action'", which is exactly what James does every time he reads The Tao. At the end of the book, he still refuses to accept any sort of faith into his life, because he believes that he would only be replacing his substance addiction with a spiritual addiction. Still, I can't help but wonder if he would ever apply something from The Tao to find meaning in his life, outside of rehab.
"He who knows much about others may be learned, but he who understands himself is more intelligent. He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still."

All in all, I thought A Million Little Pieces was an okay book. All the controversy around its truthfulness (or lack of) and accuracy seems a little petty to me, though I bet Oprah was pretty embarrassed she put a fraud onto the bestseller's list. I mean if I went through the worst six-weeks of my life getting sober in a rehab center, I'd probably make up a few things too. The thing I just don't understand is why James Frey didn't just start it out as a fictional book, or a based-on-a-true-story thing. It's kind of sad that he took what could have been a really great story of emotions, and turned it into a source of income.
From a fictional stand-point, the book wasn't too bad. I got very, very annoyed at several times with the writing style, since the author didn't seem to believe in commas or paragraphs of substance, but as I got used to it, I began to understand the reason it was written that way was to copy the constantly-changing thought process we all have. It's far from a five-star read in my opinion, but it does have all the things people love to read about: inner- and outer-conflicts, forbidden romance, and most of the time the main character was just the right amount of a BA.
I don't think I would have read this book, if it weren't for all the drama and hype surrounding it, but whether or not it was accurate, I still found it to be an interesting read.