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Finally, someone else who didn't like this book. I couldn't even finish the damn thing. Ugh.

Darcie Clark

I'm surprised you finished it. Those excerpts alone were unbearable for me!

Will you tell us about the Richard Louv book you're reading? It's a topic I'm pleased to see someone wrote about and I'm curious to hear what you think.


I suppose the memoir isn't my favorite genre, though I do recall enjoying _Welcome to My Country_ by Lauren Slater. I've since heard one of Lauren Slater's radio essays, a story about her struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder... Whereas Slater's lyricism advances her meaning, it sounds as if this Frey fellow is just perfectly awful. Thank you for the warning! I think I'll heed it.


Thankyou for saving me from reading this trash. I listen to more NPR than a body should, and during the Frey news I thought the book sounded like tireless drivel. So glad to hear that you think so too. I also don't read as much as I used to, mostly because of children, work, life. So when I read I want to read either really well written or really entertaining books! Mr. Frey's memoir doesn't sound like either! I think this new category of yours is fabulous, and I know you will make me feel better for having not read what you review! So thank you for that!

brenda in toronto

the sad thing is that he has been propelled to (likely) millionaire status thanks to oprah...


I've always been attracted to the cover. I pass by the book in Borders and pick it up, realize what it is, and put it back down. I put it back down :)

I was already getting tired of the book after reading your review and John Dolan's. Thanks for saving me from ever trying to read it.

Liz K.

Yes yes yes!

The thing that bugged me the most about this book (and Dave Eggers, too) is the self-conscious look-at-me-ism of the writing. I firmly believe (maybe because I too was an English teacher) that unless you have earned the right to subvert the form, then you must work within the conventions of the English language. Indent your paragraphs, Frey! Captialize correctly! Who do you think you are, e.e. cummings? Thomas Pynchon?

No. No. No.

I will admit a secret glee when, throughout her huckstering of the book, she kept talking about never reading a book written like in this style before, while I found it hopelessly derivative. Um, I have read books like this before. A lot of them, in fact. Bukowski did it much better, and without the bullsh*t.

But when the controversy came out, and she took him to the woodshed on her show, the thing that made me happiest in that English major kind of way, was that a large portion of the show was a discussion on the nature of memoir vs. the novel, and what an author's responsibility is to the reader. To see a vaguely literary discussion on TV made me happy.


i'm just going to preface this comment by asking you to please not judge my poor grammar. also, i never capitalize anything. don't hate me! :)

moving on...

i recently finished grad school and am finding that for the first time in a year and a half, i have time to read for pleasure! a million little pieces was the first book i picked up after graduation, and although i can't say that i "boo-hissed" my way through it as you did, i surely did not love it. i read it fairly quickly (a few days), but that's not necessarily because it was one of those books i just "couldn't put it down." i'm not sure if i would've enjoyed it more if it was actually a TRUE memoir (since half of the stuff in that book is BS), but it reminds me of the blair witch project (it's much better when you think it's REAL). in any case, it wasn't one of my favorite books, but i didn't hate it either. frankly, i'm surprised it got so many positive reviews!


Thank you. It always pleases me to no end when a reviewer pierces the self-important balloon of pretentious writing. I have no idea if that sentence qualifies as what it describes; it very well may. At least I'm not trying to sell if for a big advance :-) I haven't read the book and hadn't thought about whether I might. Now I can save that time for something better, or trashier, or just more interesting.

On the subject of not reading as much as one might like: have you tried audio books? I don't know if you commute by car, but if you do they are a great way to absorb books.


I guess for his book you kind of have to be drunk/stoned/high to enjoy it. And what's this about captialization? I Love It. Just Love It.


I love your rating scale! I look forward to reading not only about your knitting but about what you are reading.

The cover really is amazing, but I was not drawn to read it before or after the controversy. I'm less drawn to memoirs by straight men (which isn't fair but there it is) or about addiction.

The last memoir I read was "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs which disturbed me more than a book ever had. It was well-written but hard to read.


I hated that book. I usually read the ends of book first (I know) and I also have some sort of mania about finishing a book once I actually start it. For whatever reason, I didn't read the end of the book first, I just started from the beginning and slogged through a significant number of pages and just couldn't go on. I found the writing stilted and not just a little pretentious. I am glad that you have confirmed for me that I am not insane for not liking this book.

Also, thank you for the photoshoot of the STR yarn. Love that.

Lynn in Tucson

Aaaaah...books. I remember books. And movies, too. My daughter's four and books and movies have been the greatest casualties of parenthood. Thank heavens for knitting! ;-)

Scribbles & Bits

I considered reading this book (I was drawn to the Cover. I swear that will be my last "for fun" capitalization). Thank you (and Dolan) for sparing me. I found myself getting irate and itchy just reading the exerpts. Did an editor even look at this? It confounds me that anyone would read this and think this is good writing.


Another vote for BOO-HISS here. I've been reading that book for over a year and don't ever expect to reach the ending.


I haven't read it yet and now I'm glad I didn't. Thank you for the honest review.

Now, to try my hand at knitting and reading at the same time. I haven't read a book in ages.


I've been getting back into reading and I'll have to say that is a book that I didn't want to read, although I heard about the controversy and that sort of turned me off. I'm glad to read your review and the excerpts from the book. It definitely turned me off. I hate people repeating themselves as I hate to do it. Good to know.


I "here! here!" your review of the James Fry fake memoir. I'm a big fan of non-fiction/memoir writing, and so I'd recommend, if you haven't read them yet, Joan Didion's _A Year of Magical Thinking_ (of course!) and perhaps a less-obvious choice, Michael Ondaatje's _Running in the Family_.


I've made it a personal rule not to read Oprah books. Perhaps some of this is my knee-jerk snobbishness as a PhD in literature, and I do see that there is a certain virtue in making people read anything, considering that many of my students--mostly English majors who plan to become elementary or secondary teachers consider reading to be a burdensome chore, which is terrible both for them and their future students. But the truth is, I'm not a snob at all in my reading habits; I'll read Harry Potter with the same gusto as Jane Eyre, and right now I'm gleefully plowing through a novel that purports to be about 18th-century Scotland but that is really just a glorified bodice-ripper. It's just that if you ask me, most of the time Oprah gets it so, so, deeply WRONG about what is good, what is original, what is thoughtful. Personal tragedy does not automatically equal great literature. Ditto for Overcoming Childhood Trauma.

(Don't, by the way, get me started on Oprah as a brand, because I will be expressing some HIGHLY unpopular opinions in re: her basic hypocrisy, anti-feminism, and celebrity-worship.)

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs is phenomenal, by the way--one of my faves too. And I second the audiobook recommendation-it's how I knit and read at the same time. Have you read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell yet? Fantastic.


Great review. I haven't read it, but it sounds like not-so-good reading.

I'm the same way with being alone and eating -- gotta have a book with me!


Hi - thanks for the great review - I haven't read Frey's book (nor did I ever plan on it - tend to shy away from such hyped stuff).

I also loved Don't Let's Go to the Dogs - what a story. If you are interested, a couple of other fantastic memoirs are 'The Glass Castle', by Jeanette Walls, and 'Autobiography of a Face', by Lucy Grealy, who is sadly no longer in this world.


the book report is a good idea... i'm trying to get back into fiction reading too (i knit while i read-- multitasking!) and it's good to have a motivator. and i do love reading your writing, especially the slam :) this sounded horrible from the get-go (i had the bad luck to see an interview with him), and i'm impressed with your stamina and determination to finish it. at least now i know if i see it at a garage sale... keep on walkin'.


I love that you hated the book!! I, too, figured that a book getting so much attention had to at least be a good read. It was comically horrid. I like to talk like that for fun. talking. for fun. because. because it's fun.


i haven't read that book, but i think you need to be more open to different styles of writing. writing is art.


your funny, julie. thats all i have to say about that. my husband was laughing pretty hard too, i'll have you know.

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