An essential part of writing creative non-fiction is writing as truthfully as possible. This allows readers to better trust the author. Readers expect that the author will recount events as accurately as possible, or choose to market their writing as another genre. Sometimes writers choose to ignore this. Even with the best intentions, this is deceptive to the reader. Such trickery can turn even the most strong and powerful stories, stories with a message of hope for readers into crackpot writing that serves no other purpose other than to create controversy. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey is one of these cases. The author shares his riveting story of overcoming drug addiction to avoid an early death, forbidden and overwhelming love, and emotional reconnection with friends and family.
Frey chooses to write the story without the use of quotation marks. When a new thought begins, a new line on the paper begins. Oftentimes, there is a lack of punctuation to distinguish the different thoughts and lines from different characters. However, this style also enables him to make his thoughts come alive, to share his inner dialogue with readers. The imagery that he uses brings the reader to him; to the rehabilitation center, the moment he reunites with his parents, and the first time he sees Lily, his love. His simple style makes his writing relatable, even to those of us who have never been addicted to crack or sniffed glue.
His tale begins on a plane where he awakes, unaware how or why he is where he is. His teeth are broken. The reader later learns that he has fallen from a fire escape and on his way to a drug treatment center. He has spent the last 10 years addicted to alcohol and the past 3 years using crack, although he freely admits that he would willing consume any mind altering substance readily available. He describes the state of his face, freely wondering how he appears to those around him:
“On the left side of my cheek a row of crusted scabbed stitches hold a deep 1 inch-long gash together. My nose is bent and swollen beneath its bandage and red lines streak from my nostrils. There are black and yellow bruises beneath both eyes, there is blood both wet and dry everywhere."
Due to his severely disfigured mouth, Frey is sent to a Frey claims to have endured several root canals to repair his broken teeth:
“I prepare for more but I’m not prepared for what hits me. As a sharp pointed instrument pokes around one of the sanded edges of my tooth it finds a small hole and it penetrates the hole. The electric pain shoots and it shoots at a trillion volts and it is white and burning. The bayonet is twenty feet long and red hot and razor sharp. The pain is greater than anything I’ve ever felt and it is greater than anything I could have imagined. It overwhelms every muscle and every fiber and every cell in my body and everything goes limp. I moan and the instrument goes away, but the pain stays.”
The description is so vivid. One...