Book Review: Fragments by Jeff Cann


29769662 Back Cover Copy

Jeff Cann has achieved the improbable. He has taken an honest look at himself. The twenty-four stories that comprise this book range from serious and sad to funny and uplifting. And they all include an element of raw, self-analysis. These well-crafted stories each stand on their own, but together they form a mosaic, a picture of a life in transformation.

Often self-deprecating and seemingly shocked by the discoveries he’s made, Cann weaves together an engaging tale of mental unhealth, substance abuse, family life and a four-decade love of rock music.

I initially agreed to read this book because I love memoirs, and this did not disappoint.  This book, a collection of life stories, put me in mind of Blue Like Jazz (except way less religious) or even The Theft of Memory (except way more stable).  Cann is simultaneously funny and thought-provoking, and very relatable — perhaps more so than he thinks he is.

Written as an exercise in self-examination, Cann — true to his back cover copy — is honest about his life and his shortcomings.  He is open about his early life and his continuing struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, and makes no effort to hide his anxiety or OCD.  He in no way pretends to be perfect.  But while it seems to me that Cann might be a bit too hard on himself at times, he doesn’t hide his successes in life, either.  Happily married with children (no small feat in itself), Cann recounts his experiences going way out of his comfort zone to support his kids, and tells stories of perseverance in pursuing running and biking despite various injuries.  His essays are well-written, and I found myself laughing out loud in places (and then forcing my family to listen to the funny parts).

Also, as a self-published book, this is a huge success.  I normally shy away from self-published work because it is often poorly edited and low quality.  This?  Not at all.  I knew the writing would be good, because I follow Cann’s blog.  But there are also zero grammar, formatting, or print errors.  I have never seen a self-published book with zero errors.  And that speaks to not only to Cann’s passion for writing, but also the attention to detail I imagine he applies to all areas of his life.

Reading this book felt personal, like Jeff is a person I would enjoy a cup of coffee with.  I also think that this is a great book for those that also struggle with mental disorders or substance abuse, because it shows that life can be lived and enjoyed even with these often-all-enveloping problems.  TL;DR — this is a great read.

This book was provided to me for free by the author in exchange for this honest review.


  1. NWB: My book has received a handful of 5 star reviews, but all from friends. After reading an unfavorable review you wrote about “Substitute” by Nicholson Baker, I wanted to submit my book for an unbiased analysis. Thank you for your thoughtful review, I couldn’t be happier with it.

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