Since around 2003 or so, I’ve always had one or two extra copies of A Million Little Pieces in my room. I find them at book sales, thrift shops or an occasional garage sale. I always have people calling me asking for recommendations.
“I like reading, but I don’t know what to read.”
I always suggest A Million Little Pieces, for two reasons. One, some of these people are going through similar situations and I know they’ll relate. And secondly, the sparse writing style of the first chapter will draw them in instantly.
On occasion I’ll have someone say:
“Isn’t that the book Oprah said was fake?”
To which I reply:
“If anything a few incidents might have been exaggerated, but any book written about addiction by the addict can’t be scrutinized. How are you really supposed to remember what you did to the exact detail while running around town huffing gasoline and smoking crack? No one faulted Hunter S. Thompson for not actually seeing bats in Barstow.”
When I buy these copies, I usually throw them under my mattress to keep them flat and so I don’t lose them. I’ve had a few people hit me up and ask, what books I “have under the mattress?”
Another book I hold onto is Kite Runner. It’s more for people that aren’t addicts but complain about their quality of life. I’ll tell them I got something for them. It’s a bit heavy but definitely topical.
So, if we’re talking one night and I say, “The best first chapter in the last twenty years . . .” I might be sending you something by James Frey.