James Frey is the author of the memoir A Million Little Pieces.Author photo by Annelore Van Herjiwen
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.
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.
"As smart as it is heartfelt, this tribute to friendship is a far sunnier book than Frey's debut.... Frey's cool, shrewd eye for detail ties it all together, whether he's describing the inside of a jail, a Super Bowl party, or the plaintive rootlessness of life in Los Angeles." --Malcolm Jones, Newsweek"he engrossing story of a bizarre friendship between the author and a dangerous mobster." --People"Frey's appeal lies in his ability to tell his down and dirty, hair-raising story in sparse, hypnotic prose--in this sense he's already a master stylist, of kind. No subject, no height or depth of human experience is too extreme for him to come around on with deadeye grace and force of his beautiful, sad, potent, irresistible prose." --Elle"Has a ferocity and a narrative drive that won't surprise Frey's fans, but is full of unexpected heart that might." --Details"Suffused with anger and regret, written by a man who has straddled the line between life and death and has taken his time figuring out which side he wants to jump to. He spares no gory details." --Poets & Writers Magazine (cover story)"Brave and bold... This is not a document but a rendering, just as Van Gogh's self-portrait distorts his face to capture the riot of emotions behind the eyes... Frey describes how he put feelings back into his life, and the effect is vivid, splashy, mesmerizing. Indeed, he has put the Technicolor back into the memoir." --Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Examines [Frey's] relationship with the title figure, a Las Vegas mobster who helps him through rehab, jail and the terrifying terrain of sobriety...a tender story of male friendship." --Chicago Tribune"My Friend Leonard is just as compelling as the first book, with the same electrifying narrative energy, stylistic daring and atmosphere of emotional risk...Frey is exceptionally good at conveying the emotional truths behind the events he relates. His portrait of his friendship with Leonard is deeply resonant and offers a fuller human portrait of a gangster than you're likely to find anywhere else." --Bookpage"[A] great story by a talented writer." --Wisconsin State Journal"[A] must-read." --Sacramento Bee"What makes the book as difficult and challenging as its predecessor is Frey's ability to meet his new losses head-on. What makes it more inspiring is his determination to see things through, without the drugs as a crutch, to their unfortunate, heartbreaking end...Frey succeeds in making Leonard cut fast and close to the core." --Time Out New York "Frey achieves another stylistic coup... Frey's style throughout is loose, untraditional, but perfectly crafted... This book packs a full emotional wallop... Frey's extraordinary relationship with Leonard is alive, a flesh-and-blood bond." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)"A fine, grim tale full of smarting immediacy... A small fortune could be made by bottling this story and selling it as an antidote to self-pity. Frey will have to settle for the small fortune it will make in big sales." --Kirkus (starred review)"A raw, often visceral, reading experience. With Frey's emotions so close to the surface, it's impossible not to care about Frey's struggles to reintegrate into society and prosper. Another powerful read from a talented, dynamic author." --Booklist (starred, boxed review)