A Million Little Pieces - Book vs Film

James Frey's, A Million Little Pieces was released in 2003.

The cover says it all. It was a national bestseller, and I can't argue it earned that. I thought it was a superbly written book. I was hooked instantly.

For those that don't know this book, it was the once true but now somewhat true memoir about James Frey's drugs and alcohol abuse and his journey back from addiction. There really is nothing more to tell. You need to read it!

I don't know exactly what caused an investigation into this memoir as it didn't matter to me then, and doesn't matter to me now, but from what I understand there was one that lasted six weeks I believe. In the end, in 2006, the proto-TMZ site The Smoking Gun published evidence proving a number of claims made in this memoir to be untrue. The proof on the table James Frey did admit that he had embellished a number of details from his criminal record to his dental experience - which by the way was intense to read. He was even invited to the Oprah show where she publicly called him out for lying to his readers stating that she herself felt duped.

“I think one of the coping mechanisms I developed was sort of this image of myself that was greater than what I actually was.” was part of Frey's response.

Now the book is published with a note where Frey apologizes: "My mistake, and it is one I deeply regret, is writing about the person I created in my mind to help me cope, and not the person who went through the experience."

Side thought:

I do understand that they didn't want to give him drugs for the dental procedure due to his recovery but I did wonder when reading it, and again when watching the movie why they couldn't knock him out or at the very least freeze him. That was the only flag for me. Maybe Frey's version of it was a flag for someone else, and the reason someone started investigating?

Either way, personally, none of his exaggerations bothered me. In the end, his struggle with addiction and his fight to get clean was real. The story is still his even if some things were a bit more dramatically told than the reality, and let me tell you, it was a page-turner. I still commend him for getting clean and achieving something as great as a memoir, even if it is now considered a 'somewhat' true memoir. I know I can't be alone in this.

Now the movie. I just came across it over the weekend. I had no idea a movie was made of it! It turns out it was released in 2018. I was even more shocked that I had never come across it given its stellar cast. To name only a few it had Billy Bob Thornton and Charlie Hunnam. Even good ol' Opie from SOA Ryan Hurst was in it, and you know what? It was boring.

Regardless of how much of the memoir was true, it comes down to it being an incredibly good book just the same. One that had loads of emotion. One that kept you turning the pages. Even if James Frey's story wasn't as dramatic as the book told it, it is still a very real account for some addicts out there. This movie didn't even try to bring the emotion that the book had into it. Instead, it just grazed over the entire book, never really pulling you in - never allowing an opportunity to bond and feel for any of the characters in it. As someone that has been touched by addiction - not as the addict but the one affected by one, this movie did not do a good job portraying either side of it. Yes, it gives a glimpse into the struggle, but they were simply screenshots of what it looks like. There was no depth.

Book: I give it 4/5 - It would be 5/5 but since it is clear he claimed it to be true when it was only mostly true I took a star off. I still highly recommend it!

Movie: I give it 2/5. The two is only because the glimpse was good. It lacked everything else it should have had.

To close this post I would like to point out that the above opinions are just that - my opinion.

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