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My Friend Leonard


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My Friend Leonard is the story of an extraordinary friendship formed in the most unlikely circumstances.

About the Author

James Frey is originally from Cleveland, Ohio. He is married and lives in New York.


In this follow-up to his best-selling A Million Little Pieces, which described his near-fatal descent into addiction, Frey gets out of jail and embarks on a mission to live a drug- and alcohol-free life with his new girlfriend, Lilly. Before he can reach her, however, she hangs herself over the death of her grandmother. Enter Leonard, a "father figure" mobster Frey met in rehab who gives him highly lucrative (albeit highly illegal) work, indulges him in lavish feasts and parties, and simply teaches him how to enjoy life to the fullest-without illegal substances and booze. While this memoir addresses serious issues that would ostensibly interest readers (love and loss, suicide, sexual orientation, AIDS, and criminal activity), Frey's writing style utterly fails to engage. There is no distinction between one voice and the next, which makes it difficult to tell who is speaking; the lack of sentence variation and punctuation makes for a monotone narrative so that potentially exciting or emotional events have little impact. Even the most tenacious fans of Frey's more successful first book will have trouble plowing through to the end. Not a first purchase, but prepare for demand.-Dale Raben, School Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

'Vivid, splashy and mesmerising' -- Independent 'Dangerously addictive' -- Tatler 'Picassos and promise, racketeering and respect ! a stark and moving tribute to a complicated but loyal goodfella' -- Independent on Sunday 'An extraordinary tale of life after prison with a dangerous, delightful friend' -- Big Issue 'He takes you inside his world of pain, and it's like a small, brightly lit cell ... Life, Frey tells us, is pretty disturbing and weird when you're out of your head. But try living it sober' -- The Spectator 'When a book proves difficult to put down, you know you're on to a good thing' -- Irish News 'Beautiful, sad, potent, irresistible' -- Elle The idea of reading about the road to recovery of someone whose lifestyle I could neither condone nor understand didn't inspire me at all. WRONG!!! Within two pages all prejudice was forgotten and I immediately felt an empathy with the main character.' -- Jane Eyre, Leeds

Frey achieves another stylistic coup as he develops a narrative thread begun in 2003's A Million Little Pieces. He chronicles his journey out of the terrifying darkness of addiction, and the friend he meets along the way, Leonard. A gangster, raconteur and mentor, Leonard was introduced in Pieces as one of Frey's new rehab friends. Here, he pushes Frey out into the world, pampering him one moment, giving him tough love the next. As in Pieces, Frey's style throughout is loose, untraditional yet perfectly crafted: "[Leonard] offered me his hand and said good, I'm fucked up too, and I like fucked-up people, let's sit and eat and see if we can be friends. I took his hand and I shook it and we sat down and we ate together and we became friends." There's something mesmerizing about the endless tumble of words, the nonstop spilling out of Frey's troubles and triumphs. In the hands of a less capable writer, all of this cool, tight narration might numb the reader and distance the experience. Instead, this book packs a full-body emotional wallop. Frey's eye is keen for detail: the inside of a county lockup; the flat, gray Chicago winter; an out-of-control Super Bowl party in Los Angeles; the grind of living day to day-all come alive in his sparse, powerful prose. At its core, this is an examination of a friendship. Frey's extraordinary relationship with Leonard is alive, a flesh-and-blood bond forged in the agony of rehab and sustained through honesty and trust. Agent, Kassie Evashevski at Brillstein/Grey Entertainment. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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