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15

THURSDAY

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James Frey’s debut book, A Million Little Pieces, seems to have divided critics into opposing camps of praise and derision. A more evenhanded approach to this overhyped addiction memoir might point out the narrator’s lack of modulation—to say nothing of an irritating penchant for overcapitalization. Frey’s staccato prose misses the epiphanic oomph and lyrical grace of Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes or even William S. Burroughs Jr.’s overlooked Kentucky Ham. But his terse sentences have both the emaciated form and fidgety energy of a crack addict, and his repetitive phrases accurately recall the numbing mantras of rehab (“I am an Alcoholic and I am a Drug Addict and I am a Criminal”). In a literary world filled with milquetoast McSweeney’s weenies, Frey’s work is a prurient pleasure and, at the very least, deserves the buzz. Check him out at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 3040 M St. NW. Free. (202) 965-9880. (DD)