Here's 'A Million Little Pieces' of Bull
This is exactly what we needed: another movie about a drug addict’s road to redemption. Except this story is special. This had once received high praise from Oprah Winfrey and millions around the world. The author’s life as an active addict was written as hundreds of pages chronicling his fight against addiction. This man went through it all.
He wasn’t allowed to be anesthetized when being operated by a dentist! Because he was an addict!
He ran over a police officer and spent three months in jail! Because he was an addict!
His girlfriend died! He did a lot of crack! He did a lot of shit!
He most certainly deserves his seat in the I’m An Addict, My Life Was Fucked Up club like the rest of us. Mr. James Frey, let me give you a genuine pass, from one former drug fiend to another. Now before I do that, we do have to clear the air a bit for the few who might not be informed about your book that has now been adapted for the big screen.
The trailer for A Million Little Pieces opens with Aaron Taylor-Johnson as James Frey, attractive under his tweaker disguise, getting high in a room, falling off a balcony, and then waking up in an airplane with his face looking like mine used to after my ex-boyfriend would punch me for stealing his heroin when I ran out. Anyway, we see that he asks the flight attendant for alcohol, to which the woman says she can’t serve him, per orders given by a doctor who carried James onto the plane. What follows is some generic instrumental music flowing over scenes of colorful representations of his psyche and cookie cutter dialogue of James saying “I can’t!” while learning how to live again in a twelve step rehabilitation facility. Oh and Billy Bob Thornton is in this too.
It goes without saying that ever since the truth was revealed that James Frey not only tweaked a few facts here and there in his novel, but frankly embellished most of the story altogether while following the advertising scheme of marketing it as a memoir, people were kind of pissed. Readers felt betrayed, Oprah was appalled, and many actually demanded to get refunds for wasting their time reading and praising a book that was all a lie.
I remember I found out only about five years ago while scrounging for some junkie literature at Half Price Books. I saw the baby blue cover with a picture of rainbow sprinkles stuck to a hand. It looked like something that should’ve been on a coffee table at Starbucks. So I read the summary, bought it for a dollar, read the first thirty pages and reached for the blessing that is my laptop. I always like to get to know what an author’s life was like, and at that point in my life I desperately wanted validation that yes, one day, I could also be a successful author that had several overdoses under their belt before the age of twenty. When I typed his name, I saw the controversy and thought the articles and videos of Oprah’s confrontation about his literary forgery were more entertaining than his actual work. I threw the book in the trash and thought to myself, He’s getting money from this? Lucky bastard.
James Frey gets his bag and we simply get angry. That’s a fact of life. As much as a lot of you want to shout into the oblivion that this man is a fraud, I must say that he definitely has a strong characteristic that real drug addicts have: the ability to manipulate. He and his lovely team of fancy publishers successfully scammed the minds and wallets of, literally, millions when his self-proclaimed sob story hit the shelves. And guess what? Many of those addicts themselves will acknowledge the lies, but will still appreciate his lackluster excuse for edgy, stylistic writing. Whether it be because his words helped them through their own traumatic adversities, or it allowed them to delve into the thoughts of an addict.
Even if you’re someone who is Oprah Winfrey angry, you might as well chew up, savor, and swallow your words. Or! Why not write an opinion piece like this one to put your disappointment and anger into a semi concise format for other recovering addicts out there to read? Cool.
Either way, as we sit and fume, our friend James Frey cashes checks and embraces the unholy reputation of being “that guy” that wrote “that book.”
Now here's you shiny gold fucking star, James, wannabe Bukowski, Frey.
If there’s one thing you can take away from this, it’s that if James Frey could forge his way to infamous success, then you and I can forge ourselves through life and recovery.