Chapter 25: James Frey on drunk, defiant differentiation

I caught up with James at the Simon&Shuster offices in Toronto while he was on book tour for  Katerina.

I caught up with James at the Simon&Shuster offices in Toronto while he was on book tour for Katerina.

What do you know about James Frey?

Or what do you think you know about James Frey?

I’m guessing it’s not nothing. Everyone has an opinion! When I first spotted A Million Little Pieces on my wife’s bookshelf when we were moving in together I was like “Oh? Really? That book? The Oprah guy?”

And she was like “Have you read it?”

And I was like “No, no idea what it’s even about. Just that it’s not real or whatever.”

Hanging at his publisher.

Hanging at his publisher.

She looked at me with disappointed eyes. Understandably so! I hadn’t bothered to go below the surface. To read about it on my own. I had just soaked in some distant fumes off the story.

“Read it,” she said, and pushed the book into my hands.

That night I opened A Million Little Pieces and was completely pulled into this pulsing, frenetic, endlessly climactic story of addiction, growth, and finding yourself. The book shook me. It was a masterpiece. I couldn’t believe it existed. I almost felt anger towards the Oprah saga because it headfaked me into thinking I knew what the book was about… when I couldn’t have been more off. I went deeper into James Frey’s catalogue and found myself similarly seduced by books like Bright Shiny Morning and Katerina.

We capped off our podcast by going to a local bookstore and signing both of our books.

We capped off our podcast by going to a local bookstore and signing both of our books.

His stories have a pace and staccato to them that’s perfect for distracted brains like mine. He doesn’t mince words, he doesn’t shy away, and his characters always punch you in the gut.

I sat down with James with a lot of questions and I loved our discussions around fatherhood and living an intentional life. We talk about teaching children to read, the importance of secular bibles, and why (and how) we can slowly stop comparing ourselves to others.

We talk about critics and he shares an incredible story on what true pain really is. (Hint: It’s not getting yelled at on TV.) We explore what getting drunk really means and talk about how to step outside and learn to fall in love with whatever you see.

I hope you enjoy Chapter 25 of 3 Books with James Frey.

Listen to Chapter 25:

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What You'll Learn:

  • How can ‘getting drunk’ help you enjoy life more?

  • How do we avoid comparing ourselves to others in the age of social media?

  • Why should writers focus less on following rules and expectations of the literary world?

  • How can we learn to live more in alignment with our morals and what we think is right?

  • How can different activities be forms of meditation?

  • How do we learn to accept ourselves?

Ideas Worth TWEETING:

“It’s easy to follow rules. It’s a lot harder and a lot more fun to say f*** all of that and find your own way. To do what you feel inside, to do what you think is right and what’s true to your soul.” James Frey #3bookspodcast

“I just think books make you smarter. Reading books is like traveling; it opens your mind to worlds you would never know existed.” James Frey #3bookspodcast

“You can learn a lot from other people, from observing them or talking to them or spending time with them, but who you really need to know is yourself.” James Frey #3bookspodcast

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