Go to enough bookstores and you start seeing a pattern. There are these books that are in every store, misfit books that nobody seems to want on their shelves. A Million Little Pieces is one of them. Eat, Pray, Love is another. Couplehood, by Paul Reiser is probably the first one I noticed. Every store has a couple copies of Couplehood, a half-dozen copies of Eat, Pray, Love. I told this to my buddy, Ben, and he cracked up.
I’ve decided to read these books. All of them that I could handle. I’m not sure how many I’ll handle. Note: I’m not linking to Amazon — I don’t recommend you read these books. I started with A Million Little Pieces by James Frey.
Why is it a misfit?
Misfits sell a lot. Having a lot of copies in circulation helps get placement in every reject pile. This book has sold a lot … thanks to Oprah’s book club. Then it was disputed and questioned and made infamous.
Fury. I hated this book. Fury is also an inside joke:
[The “Fury” is] a combination of rage, anger, extreme pain. They mix together into what I call the Fury. I have known the Fury for as long as I can remember … From the first time I drank, I knew drinking would kill it. From the first time I took drugs, I knew the drugs would kill it.
Well. Hence the drug problem, then. Oddly, even James Frey’s drug problem is disputed. Not that alcoholism isn’t a problem, but that’s all that seems to be in his criminal record — there’s no mention of drug arrests. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This book is just terrible. Its only redeeming quality was that it was supposed to be relatively true. Sure, memoirs are embellished, but this one goes all-in with the embellishment and lays on the stereotypes and clichés extra thick. He’s befriended by a mobster during his recovery. He’s a go-it-alone maverick who is going to just quit drugs himself, decide not to take them, ignore AA … and be successful. The staff is controlling, but he eventually befriends them. He and a fellow female patient fall in love. His father is a workaholic. There’s even a scene where the girlfriend character ends up sucking dick for crack. Frey’s borrowed bits from Ken Kesey and Chris Rock and others and pawned them off as his life’s story.
What does he have to say about lying?
The truth is all that matters. This is fucking heresy.
I stare back and I tell him that I find his lies amusing and Mike speaks for the first time since the breakfast began and he says they certainly are. Bobby, like all Liars confronted, is instantly defensive and instantly mad.
If I could, I would hunt down the Creators of this utter bullshit fantasy fairy-tail piece of crap and I would lock them in a room and feed them drugs until they were profoundly and chronically Addicted to them. Then I would overdose them, drive them to the nearest inner-city ER, and I would drop them off at the door, right next to the homeless Guys with knives, the Addicts with AIDS and the Cops and the Ambulance Drivers smoking cigarettes.
And I hate this book for other reasons. Words are randomly capitalized. Everything is left-justified — there are no indents. All the dialog is presented without quotation marks. Read as a fictional account, it’s shit. Initially offered as a novel, the book was rejected something like 17 times … for good reason. It’s just not good. It’s not a good story; it’s not well written. Only when it was claimed to be true did it get published. And even that wouldn’t have really mattered if Oprah hadn’t put it in her book club. If not for Oprah, a couple thousand people would have read it, but because of her, it sold about 4 million copies. And when you sell 4 million copies, eventually somebody had to actually read it and see it for what it was and expose all the bullshit it contained.
I hate that it was published at all, because that means somebody else’s book was passed over, rejected. That infuriates me. And that Oprah picked it up at all … the Fury is overtaking me. Give me a drink!
But first … this is a little awkward. Now I have this book. And there are already copies on every for-sale and please-take shelf in America. I’m not going to read it again. I can’t give it away, because anybody that I’d give it to probably already has a copy, has probably thrown away their copy. There’s only one thing to do … thin the herd.
Misfit books, like deer, have very few natural predators. They need to be culled periodically to keep the population in check. Without proper management, misfit books could flood the country, breaking every shelf in America under the strain of their collective weight. No, something has to be done. Something that may not be pretty. You may want to avert your eyes.