Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Writing Style

By James Frey

Writing Style

Stream of Consciousness. Fragmented.

Sometimes, A Million Little Pieces sounds like someone doing a William Shatner impersonation.

Leave.

No.

Drink.

Smoke.

Panic.

Panic.

Leave.

Stay.

F***ed.

F***ed.

Run.

Run.

Run.

Caught.

Eight years.

Maximum Security.

Lilly.

Where are you.

Lilly.

Where are you. (3.4.596-3.4.615)

We feel like we should be wearing a beret and snapping rapidly at the end of that performance.

The whole book isn't like this, but a lot of it sounds similar. Here's James writing about being woken up by some frightening screaming:

It's coming from the Main Rooms of the Unit and with each step that I take it becomes louder and more intense. It's like a f***ing child being burned alive. I'm scared. The hair on the back of my neck is standing and the hair on my arms is standing and my heart is thudding and my ears are ringing and it's louder and more intense with each step. I want it to stop. I'm scared. Poor Child. I'm scared. Poor Child. (2.4.3-2.4.4)

Frey also Capitalizes certain Words to give Them a Sense of Importance, and he doesn't use any quotation marks to signify dialogue. Perhaps this writing style is supposed to convey to us the fractured nature of being a drug addict. James is, after all, broken into a million little pieces—just like his sentence fragments. Or rule-breaker James Frey won't be satisfied until every law of grammar, syntax, and punctuation is broken, too. No comma or semi-colon will stand in his way.

Either way, the writing style totally fits the fragmented reality of a drug addict.

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