Tag: Bar

James Frey – A Million Little Pieces | Review

Title: A Million Little Pieces

Author: James Frey

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 518

Rating: 4.25/5

I was given this as a birthday present from someone who’d read it themselves and enjoyed it and who’d seen that it was on my ridiculously large want to readlist. I don’t actually get given books that often because more often than not, I end up resenting them because I feel as though I have to read them whether I want to or not. But as this was off my big old list, we dodged that problem.

I think I first heard about this on BookTube, although I can’t remember who was talking about it. It basically instantly went on to my wish list because it’s a non-fiction drug book and I’ve always been partial to books about drugs. I even quite like it when you get references to opium in stuff like The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy falls asleep in a field of poppies.

Because I find the subject matter interesting, I was pretty much guaranteed to like this one. However, there are some other factors that come into play too. For example, the dialogue is written without quotation marks or indeed any form of punctuation, which some people might offputting. It’s the first thing I noticed when flicking through it and that, combined with a blurb from Irvine Welsh on the back, made me think it might be a tricky read. It turns out to actually work better and to flow more smoothly like that.

I guess that’s because of the style of the book. It’s written as a sort of stream-of-consciousness memoir and reads as though Frey is just chatting to you at a bar, and so this style of punctuation is perfect. At the same time though, I’m sure it’s not quite to everyone’s tastes, and that’s okay. And besides, if you like drug stories but you can’t deal with the punctuation, there’s always the movie version, which I’ll probably watch at some point or another.

Other than that, I’m not sure that there’s much more that I can tell you. I think as long as you have an interest in the subject matter – that of a recovering addict trying to get clean – and you don’t mind dialogue when it’s oddly formatted, you’re in for a treat. I will say that he spends the majority of the book either thinking about drugs or wishing he was dead, and so it can sometimes feel a little samey, but that can’t really be helped due to the subject matter and you have to respect the honesty.

Overall then, I’d definitely recommend this one, especially if you have an interest in drug and addiction memoirs. Otherwise, if you’re worried about trigger warnings or if it just makes you unhappy to read about stuff like this then maybe give it a miss. You’d be missing out on a good read, but it’s also a difficult one that can be quite confrontational too. As for me, I’m glad that I read it. A good gift!

Learn more about A Million Little Pieces.

 


Charles Bukowski – The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain | Review

Title: The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain

Author: Charles Bukowski

Type: Poetry

Page Count/Review Word Count: 297

Rating: 9/10

 

Charles Bukowski - The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain

Charles Bukowski – The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain

 

It’s no secret that Charles Bukowski is one of my favourite writers, but books like this help to remind me why he’s up there in the first place. Published post-humously from an archive of unpublished work that the great poet left behind to be released after his death, The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain is a reminder of how transient life can be.

Bukowski was a master at showing through telling, at revealing more than he actually reveals by leaving the reader to fill in the gaps with their imagination. Here, he reflects upon both the earlier and the later years of his life, and one poem poignantly mentions his age at the time of composition – 73, the same age he was when he died.

The Charles Bukowski (or Hank Chinaski, as his alter ego is known) that wrote The Flash of Lightning is a very different man to the one portrayed in Barfly – sure, he still loves the horses and he still picks up on the darker side of human nature, but he’s no longer some drunk in the corner of a bar. The elderly poet still drank but he drank at home, and he owned property and even lived with a wife and a collection of cats.

Bukowski didn’t mellow in old age, and he neither burned out nor faded away – he simply lived his life to its fullest, in a way that nobody else could ever imitate, no matter how much they tried. We should consider ourselves fortunate that he continued to write with his trademark honesty right up until the moment of his death.

 

Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski

 

Click here to buy The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain.