I’m still not quite sure what to think of this book, even with the revelations that chunks of it were totally made up. To me, that’s not its main problem. Frey’s entire work is hamstrung by a half-baked stream of consciousness style that is more often annoying than compelling. Sure, I can appreciate the style when he’s talking about how messed up in the head he is, but the inexplicable punctuation (he seems to capitalize words randomly) and the total avoidance of quotation marks doesn’t make it artsy or authentic. It just makes it hard to read.
The book is also hopelessly melodramatic and romantic in the classical sense of the word. True love at first sight saves the day, the author befriends a mob boss with a heart of gold, and there are more addict sob stories than you can swing a crack pipe at. Really, anybody who thought that this “memoir” was 100% true needs to go into gullibility detox themselves. Stuff just doesn’t line up like this in real life. Other “Oh you don’t really expect me to believe this” points include:
- Getting on a plane covered in blood, in need of immediate medical attention, and unconscious. I can’t even get on a plane with an oversized bag.
- Being told he can’t have Novocaine (a non-addictive, local, and non-mood altering anesthetic) for a double root canal because he’s an addict.
- The author’s not getting thrown out of a substance abuse clinic when he freaks out and trashes a room.
- Being told that the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory pegged the author’s intelligence as high (the MMPI doesn’t measure intelligence).
- A dramatic rescue of a fellow patient from a crack house, accompanied by clinic staff.
- One patient’s getting the clinic to allow him to have a private party, complete with catered food, gambling, and the setup of a satellite TV system for the viewing of a Pay-Per-View boxing event.
I could go on, but you get the point. So the book is poorly written, melodramatic, and contrived in several places, not to mention that big parts of it are billed as real when they are obviously not. But still, I kept turning the pages until I came to the end, because it’s an interesting story and I wanted to know how it came out. Frey also has some thought-provoking things to say about the nature of abuse and how he was able to deal with it –take personal responsibility for not only your problems, but for solving them. He eschews –even mocks– the whole 12-step program, calling it the replacement of one addition (drugs) with another (the program). While I think one addiction is obviously better than the other in this example, i can kind of see what he’s talking about.
But again, since the legitimacy of his whole tale is questionable, I’m not sure I’d recommend looking to him for anything more than an entertaining story.