General chatter - Chick Lits Book Club Discussion "A Million Little Pieces" through page 109.

11-13-2006, 09:00 AM
:book2: Good morning everybody. So today our discussion begins on James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" through page 109. I think for next Monday, November 20 we should read through page 215, if we all agree we can go further, I for one would not mind. So get back to me on that one. As it stands I guess our official name is Chick Lits. I've never done anything like this before so people feel free to jump in here and make any kind of suggestions that you like. And yes, you can still join us. So here goes:

I think the first think I noticed about the book was that there are no quotation marks and no paragraph indentations. Did you all like this? I think it made for easy reading and a good flow to the book. Do you think that it added to the rawness and nature of the story? I think it did, especially since James Frey was the one writing the story. I think it kind of showed where he was coming from.

What did you all think about the dentist part?
I for one don't understand why they couldn't give him novacaine. I know he is supposed to have absolutley no drugs, but come on. That's just inhumane. If and when he does kick the drugs and would ever be in that position again he would be given novacaine.

What did you think about the fact that they are allowed cigarettes and coffee, also drugs. Legal drugs, but drugs as is the novacaine legal

What did you think about Roy and Lincoln? I mean they were really on his case.

I know it's still early in the book, but what sense did you get of the cause of his addiction? He did mention that they moved around a bit. But also on page 100 he talked about his family meals with his mother and his brother and playing games and reading books. Yes, his father was absent from these times, but not always. He says - we were a family, a happy family. I would have liked more of a clue as to how he got this way. Maybe they will cover that in the future.

He also lists in quite detail on page 94 the history of his drug abuse. Starting at age 7 stealing sips from drinks -age 7, I mean what 7 year old does that? It almost makes me think that there really is something chemically wrong with this guy. 7 - age 7? I just can't get over that. And it progressed quite rapidly, hammered @10 and vomiting, 12 & 13 smoking regularly and drinking. his first blackout at 14, arrest 3x at 15. So umm, where were these parents?
Also the level of his addiction is just enormous, the constant vomiting, and blood in his stool, can you just imagine the amount of abuse this man put upon himself. It's really uncomprehensible to me.

Which leads me to another point, I couldn't help but notice, and I'm sure some of you guys caught it as well - on page 87 - he talks about the need to get f**ked up and he needs to be fiiled and there's no drugs, so what does he turn to - uh huh FOOD. That kind of freaked me out a bit and opened up my eyes to just what all this overeating stuff that I've been doing is about.
He keeps saying gotta get filled, fiil me. He doesn't care what it is or what it tastes like - just fill me. fill me. I gotta have something to fill me. It really was insightful for me. He wants more but for the moment his needs have been met. Scary to me, very scary. Very thought provoking to me.

And then he gets back the medical report - mucho damage to his body. And he's told just a few days of drugs and alcohol and you're gone, dead. And yeah that's what he'll do. He'll end it. But you do get some signs of a redeemable man, he writes thank you notes to Hank and Leonard. And then Leonard talks him into going back to the clinic.

And that's it for me for now. I can't wait to hear what you guys have to say.

11-13-2006, 12:25 PM
WOW fed, some really insightful thoughts! I like your post. I especially like what you're saying about looking for fulfillment by turning to food and stuffing himself beyond his needs just to fill the void. I guess that one got past me, but I really should have figured I could relate. What about his dreams of being in a hotel room filled with all the drugs and no one to stop him, I suppose I could have a similar dream about eating.

I also kept thinking the same thing about the Novacaine, it's not like you can get high from it (or can you? this from a guy who found a way to get high with a tube of glue or a can of gasoline too?) It was just a horrifying recount. And the fact that he just continued to thank the doctor and praise him (telling him, "It's not what you do, today you went above and beyond that")

I thought the story of his first friend was really telling. The nice beautiful cheerleader who befriended him and used him so she could date an older boy. Then she was killed in an accident on one of those dates and the whole town (and probably himself to some extent) blamed him and felt sorry for the guy who was the real problem. I think alot of his future had to do with him being labelled "a bad seed" from an early age, like even before that girl was his friend. Like it was implanted into his mind at an early age that he would never amount to anything, that he could do no right, and he just grew up to fulfill that prophecy.

What do you think about his feelings about God and religion? He claims not to be a believer and seems to admonish anything told to him if it involves religion but I wonder if he just feels left behind or disappointed by God, not that he doesn't believe. It just seems to keep coming up.

His feelings regarding AA-- I've heard this before. My own brother does have an alcohol problem and has tried AA a few times and he says the same thing, that it can be very preachy and God oriented, placing your problems in the hands of a "higher power" and that it can get really holy-rolling. But do you think that is true or do you think that addicts can make an excuse not to seek help? BTW my brother went on to find different AA meetings with different focus, even a Gay/Lesbian AA etc. You can find help less preachy if that's your problem with the program. I also have an uncle who is an active AA member but it even feels weird to us like at the holidays, he'll just start in about the Lord and the higher power, etc., and I'm sorry we just aren't a particularly religious family. Good for him to get help but...well my own discomfort really should just be my problem.

Also on this board we have repeatedly spoken of "addictive behaviors" and people who are overeaters who just become "addicted" to something else, gambling, drinking, etc. And there are others who just heatedly deny that anyone could have an "addictive personality". What do you think? I do sort of believe that some members of AA become addicted to the meetings, my uncle went to 3-4 a day some days. Or maybe he just NEEDED to go so often to stave off cravings. I guess I probably could go to several meetings a day if I felt I couldn't fight on my own.

What do you think will happen with James and Lilly? The meaningful glances, the illegal contact? I think she was trying to slip him a note during his food binge (the fill me incident). Do you think the "you may say hello and nothing else" rule is reasonable? I say it must have to be that way or they would have all kinds of canoodling and hindering of recovery. So then why wouldn't the facilities be completely segregated? Why tempt addicts?

I like how he feeds us bits and pieces of the story of his addiction....he saw "her" when she dropped her papers and saw "her" when he went to meet the roomate to deliver her drugs. I'm sure this story is going to play a big part in how he ended up how he did.

I am really interested in learning about addiction and this kind of behavior. Not my kind of nursing assignment, but I am so fascinated. Do any of you watch Intervention on A&E? (is it A&E? Its on sunday nights) That show really fascinates me, an addict (all kinds of drugs, alcohol, even bullemics, etc) agrees to participate in a documentary about addiction, a camera watches them do it for about a week or so and it ends with the family/friends staging an intervention, then whether they go for help and how it turns out. The first time I saw it, and they actually showed a person smoking a crack pipe I was just like wow they showed that on TV! Or maybe I'm just naive about these things.

I get distracted by the lack of paragraph indentations and lack of quotation marks. Sometimes I forget which person is speaking. (not just because I am a blonde either!) Plus I'm a big of a grammar freak. It is an easy read though. I hope its not an unpopular opinion, but in the back of my mind I'm starting to get a little bored, like that it's moving too slow. But I am sticking with, I'm interested enough to read it through, but it is off to a slow start.

I'll check in later and see what others think. Good choice for our first book!

11-13-2006, 04:52 PM
Yes I was also wondering about AA. Not knowing anyone in the program I couldn't help but wonder is that really the way they do things. Not that there's ANYTHING wrong with bringing God into your recovery, but I could definitely see where it wouldn't be for everyone. So is it useless (AA) to people who don't want to or can't bring that aspect into their recovery.

Yes, I also thought Lily was going to hand him a note. And we'll see what happens with them, I think it might be going somewhere. And his friend Michelle, who got killed by the train, by that point he was already a "troublemaker", I still can't get past starting to drink at age 7.

I have also never heard about addiction to such an extent, this man if physically sick day in and day out. Really suffering physically. i caught a piece of INTERVENTION one time, but then forgot about it. I also find those kind of things fascinating.

I'm also ready for it to move on. We shall see.

11-13-2006, 05:43 PM
I feel like I'm back in high school and have to do a book report!!!

Love the book. I found it very easy to read.I think that's the way he wrote it you fly through the pages. I'm like you Michelle sometimes I have to go back and read it again to figure out who's talking.

When he went to the dentist I felt physically sick .The thought of having that done without anaesthesia is mind blowing. I don't know enough about addiction but the novocaine must have some sort of effect on an addict.

I wouldn't have thought that AA were particularly religious.He is very adamant that he wants nothing to do with a 12 step programme.

It was interesting to read about him binging on the food until he is ill. Substitute one addiction for another. I suppose they have given everything else up so cigarettes and coffee aren't so bad.

There are people that care for him including his parents and someone cared enough about him and put him on that plane.

A good choice for the first book .

11-13-2006, 06:27 PM
I loved this book.

On the dentist/novocaine part - someone undergoing active recovery will have a relapse of symptoms if given any substances at all that alter their awareness, even novocaine. It could set off a desire to leave the facility to get additional drugs.

It took me a while to get into the punctuationless writing style, but once I did, I definitely agree that it helped to improve the flow of the book and acheived a lot of success in conveying the almost frantic nature of James' mind. It allowed him to jump from thought to thought and sentence to sentence in a jumbled way, and was a great way to convey his emotions and jumbledness at that time in his life.

The food/drug comparison isn't just made in the book - its made very frequently in a scientific journal setting. The idea that all addictions are, at their root, pretty much the same is so interesting to me.

The religiousness of AA is something that a lot of people have issues with. I think that the approach James is taking would be MUCH HARDER, however, then turning over the addiction to a higher power. Most research shows that what James is doing to overcome his addiction is pretty much destined to fail, so its interesting to see him taking that path anyway and seeing where it ends up.

11-13-2006, 07:02 PM
you gals do know this book is mostly lies don't you?

11-13-2006, 08:12 PM
Sure we heard about all the controversy. And we know that James Frey admitted to embellishing some of the details, but for the most part it's true. This man did suffer from horrendous addiction with horrendous consequences. We heard such good things about it, that it was a good read and all, and in spite of all the negative things said about Frey we thought that we could overlook that. So far so good.

11-13-2006, 08:19 PM
its not exactly "mostly lies". The most dramatic parts are embellished (including the whole dental-without-anesthesia scene, by the way) but the experiences he went through, on an emotional level, aren't necessarily fabricated.

The book is good if taken as fiction, no less good, in my opinion, than if it were autobiography.

11-13-2006, 08:40 PM
I just gotta mention that last week my husband had a root canal on a molar, which has many more roots that a front tooth and therefore is more painful. That's not to say that the enormous amount of work they had to do on James' mouth was not painful. Well his dentist gave him 10, that's right 10 shots of novacaine and it didn't take at all, not even a little bit, and he just couldn't give him anymore, it would have been pointless. He has always had this problem and therefore always dreaded the dentist more then most. He was in such pain from needing the root canal that he told his dentist to just go ahead and do it. So he did it. And my husband was in excruciating pain. Beyond belief kind of pain. But it needed to be done. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

11-13-2006, 10:39 PM
I didn't mean to rain on your parade at all gals! I am sure the book is VERY entertaining! It would not have been such a hot seller if it wasn't. My only take on it, is, after seeing 2 interviews with him, squirming...well, let's just say that "I" would have a tough time believing anything he said. But that's "me". Enjoy your club...Angie may get in it at some point...I would 'cept pretty sure you are going to do Sports illustrated or Playboy...there are articles in there right? .....wink!

11-14-2006, 11:38 AM
I also saw 2 interviews with him and I think his story is basically the truth, we'll never know for sure and quite frankly I don't care. I would have prefered if it would have said "based on a true story", but so goes it. I read many works of fiction and don't think as I'm reading it, is this true or not. We'd love to have Angie jump on in. The more the merrier.

As for Playboy I think you might have to find another message board. Sorry.

11-14-2006, 11:51 AM
I don't mind that you mentioned the controversy, EZ, in fact, I meant to pose this as a question--does knowing the truth affect what you're thinking as you read the book? For me, I actually forgot about it for a moment, and honestly, it's not so unbelievable that you couldn't believe it, it's just an interesting story. Maybe it is someone's story. But no, it doesn't affect how I see it.

11-14-2006, 12:47 PM
I loved this book and read it (and the follow up) before the controversy hit. My FIL read it and his brother was an alcoholic and drug abuser all his life and he said that a lot of what the author wrote was true because he saw it in his brother. I don't really care whether the book was mostly lies or half-truths or whatever--it was definitely a good read! I cringed at the dentist part (but then, my dad has had multiple oral surgeries without any Novocaine because he is terrified of the needle). I don't know how anyone could do it, but think back to the Kansas City bombing--they had to amputate one girl's leg without any pain killer just to get her out of the building. It's amazing how one's body cannot really remember the pain afterwards.

It does make you wonder though, where WERE his parents? I know I did a lot of bad things when I was growing up, but I had to be accountable for the most part because of my parents. I sure hold my daughter accountable for her actions now. I think the parents must have been pretty dysfunctional.

11-14-2006, 01:27 PM
Well, sometimes parents do everything right and the kids still turn out making the wrong decisions. Or minor problems with the parents affect the kid in a strongly negative way, and sort of balloon from there. You learn more about what exactly went wrong later in the book, but I don't think any child that is addicted to drugs/alcohol necessarily has dysfunctional parents...sometimes children can be really, really good at hiding things like this, or other circumstances might come into play. For example, if your parents were never home because they were working 12 hour days/multiple jobs to put food on the table, they might not be aware of a developing drug problem, but thats not a result of them being dysfunctional, its a result of their economic realities.

Families have dynamics that go far beyond functional/dysfunctional. Later in the book, it is really fascinating to learn how the whole thing developed within his particular family structure.

As for the controversy, I read this book as fiction from the very beginning - it isn't written in a typically biographical format, so I just interpreted it as being fictional. The story is still very good, whether it was made up or not, and I have heard a lot of former addicts describe how accurately he captures the emotional upheaval of getting clean, so it still provides us with a window into that particular human experience, whether or not it is 100% adherent to facts.

11-14-2006, 03:14 PM
I've not read too far ahead and I was wondering about the parents too. The fact that they live in Japan makes me think maybe they are jet-setters or business people or something, maybe he was neglected or ignored as a child or the parents were "too busy" to be bothered with him. Like he started at a young age trying to get their attention.

11-14-2006, 03:50 PM
But he mentions that he had a happy family life. When he's eating the meatloaf, page 100 I think. I 100% understand that parents are not always to blame for their childrens addictions. But he started dringking at AGE 7.
I mean come on you can still mold and change your children at this age and have a huge influence over them. They should have caught something. I'm sorry it's inexcusable. I am curious to see if they ever fully divulge the cause for his rampant addiction. I think tonight I will read further in the book, but don't worry I won't discuss it till next Monday.

11-14-2006, 08:03 PM
HI GALS~ As far as the guys parents go (without reading the book I have no idea where they were) I can tell you this, from some of the kids I know and have worked with in construction over the years ~ Sometimes, IT IS JUST NOT THE PARENTS FAULT! So many kids are sitting on the fence, whichever way they lean sometimes can just be the neighborhoods they were raised in. I grew up on the "good" streets of our neighborhood of about 20 streets...but my goodness...go 5 streets up and it was a whole other world.

That being said...parents "should" notice things...but that being said...some parents are just not as smart as us!

Angie says she may join in after our son's wedding on Saturday.

11-15-2006, 03:10 PM
(okay... my home computer is on the fritz, so i'm just now getting in here! seeing lots of very insightful posts about this book. yay!)

anyway, my thoughts so far:

at first, i was annoyed by the lack of quotation marks and whatnot, but as i continued reading, it really does add to the story. it makes it seem more real, more like an actual monologue or dialogue, and less like a narrative that's being fed to you by an author and a team of editors and publishers.

mandalinn82 cleared up my confusion about the "no novocaine" thing. but here's where i bring out my own off-the-wall thought process... but in regards to this story, i saw something else, something more symbolic in it. i mean, he's spent years trying to bury pain, both physical and emotional, under layers of drugs and alcohol... instead of feeling and dealing with it like "normal" people. so now, he's forced to feel the pain, and face the consequences of his actions, instead of being able to numb it and hide from it.

the cigarettes and coffee thing doesn't really bother me. i just kinda assumed that since those are very very mild drugs perhaps they've found a higher success rate by allowing those, as opposed to allowing nothing at all. i don't know. i'll just leave it there, and take it as is... :p

as far as James and Lilly, i think the "no contact" rules are reasonable... the way i read it, this is a treatment center that apparently also deals with sexual addiction? if that's the case, allowing contact could be a dangerous thing for some patients' rehabilitation. and given the tendency to replace one addiction with another, those who aren't being treated for sexual addictions, could end up developing one. with that reasoning for the rules, i have NO idea why they wouldn't just segregate them completely. maybe because those particular addictions are something that is next to impossible to avoid in the outside world, so the addicts have to learn to deal with the constant temptation? i mean, unless you become a total hermit, you're going to see/be around members of the opposite sex.

now, about the controversy... i don't mind it being mentioned, at all. if this were a poorly written book, then i wouldn't be able to look past it. however, even thinking of it as fiction, i'm still getting sucked into it. i swear, during the work at the dentist, i could all BUT feel the pain. as it was, i was clenching my teeth and cringing. LOL even if it was ALL untrue, it's still well written and easy to get into. ;) that meets all my requirements for a good read.

11-16-2006, 01:41 PM
I'm baaack! It was so hard while in my hotel room this week to put the book down! I finally gave it to my parents to hold on to at dinner and went to the bookstore and bought a ton of magazines.

I love all the responses everyone's giving. So thought out and intelligent!

From the beginning, I've looked at this book as completely fictional. I call into question the validity of most "autobiographies" or "memoirs", because, let's face it, who doesn't embellish the truth about themselves from time to time? I feel that a person who feels self-important enough to write a book about themselves, is the type of character who may want to look better or stronger, as I feel is the case with this book.

I also have to agree about the "where were the parents" question. I understand that some parents do everything right and the kids turn out awful, but isn't there some responsibity on the parents' or is this something we blame on a mental or physiological or other disability? I think most parents, mine included, have a tendency to be in denial about their children's problems. I'm thinking that this is the case here. I'm sure his parents don't know the extent of his use, but they HAVE to have an idea.

I love the flow of this book. It makes some of the more difficult issues easier to take, such as the teeth "repair". I honestly think that if this were an honest memoir, the author would have passed out or gone into shock long before he did.

I'm unpacking this book and can't wait to move on!

11-16-2006, 08:15 PM
i think, with his parents, it was maybe a combination of absence/inattentiveness, and overindulgence. yes, he talks about being happy, but somehow what he describes seems more like they're just going through the motions... like they were following some kind of "How to be a perfect family" checklist, while not noticing, or not dealing with what was actually happening.

11-17-2006, 10:05 AM
:book2: Good morning fellow bookworms. It seems like we've all enjoyed the book so far and everybody had really insightful things to say about it.
I for one know that I am going to remain so intune to my children's changes and moods and needs and lives in general. Let's not start that again. But I am hoping there is more of a clue as to how James' life got to be so incredibly out of control. I haven't read more yet, will definitely do so this weekend.

So I just wanted to remind you if I may that for this coming Monday, November 20 we will be starting our discussion up to page 215. And am very much looking forward to it. Happy reading and if I don't get back here - have a great weekend.