A Review of Katrina by James Frey

Katerina Book Cover Katerina
James Frey
Gallery/Scout Press
September 11, 2018

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning comes Katerina, James Frey’s highly anticipated new novel set in 1992 Paris and contemporary Los Angeles. A kiss, a touch. A smile and a beating heart. Love and sex and dreams, art and drugs and the madness of youth. Betrayal and heartbreak, regret and pain, the melancholy of age. Katerina, the explosive new novel by America’s most controversial writer, is a sweeping love story alternating between 1992 Paris and Los Angeles in 2018. At its center are a young writer and a young model on the verge of fame, both reckless, impulsive, addicted, and deeply in love. Twenty-five years later, the writer is rich, famous, and numb, and he wants to drive his car into a tree, when he receives an anonymous message that draws him back to the life, and possibly the love, he abandoned years prior. Written in the same percussive, propulsive, dazzling, breathtaking style as A Million Little Pieces, Katerina echoes and complements that most controversial of memoirs, and plays with the same issues of fiction and reality that created, nearly destroyed, and then recreated James Frey in the American imagination.

I was asked to review this book by its publisher Simon & Schuster however disliked it immensely. I found it trite and terrible. It was neither entertaining nor a pleasant read; merely a rude, crude example of bad writing. Set in Paris in 1992 and Los Angeles in 2017, the story, such as it is, involves the author getting Facebook messages from a woman he doesn’t remember who was his lover 25 year ago. The book quickly deteriorates into a foul mouthed puerile and dreary litany of reminiscences of sex, pain, drunkenness and drug excesses.

Frey seems unable to write in complete sentences, loves to write in streams of consciousness and is prone to an overabundance of four letter words and gutter language. He seems to suffer from a constipated vocabulary and imagination when choosing words. The book would be much shorter if it was cleaned up.

I could not finish the book and cannot imagine anyone buying and enjoying it. This is particularly so at a time when his misogynist views of women are unacceptable. Frankly I am surprised that any reputable publisher would care to handle it.


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