BookBrowse Reviews My Friend Leonard by James Frey

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My Friend Leonard

by James Frey

My Friend Leonard by James Frey X
My Friend Leonard by James Frey
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2005, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2006, 416 pages

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The follow up to Frey's infamous memoir, A Million Little Pieces

From the book jacket: Perhaps the most unconventional and literally breathtaking father-son story you'll ever read, My Friend Leonard pulls you immediately and deeply into a relationship as unusual as it is inspiring.

The father figure is Leonard, the high-living, recovering coke addict "West Coast Director of a large Italian-American finance firm" (read: mobster) who helped to keep James Frey clean in A Million Little Pieces. The son is, of course, James, damaged perhaps beyond repair by years of crack and alcohol addiction - and by more than a few cruel tricks of fate.

James embarks on his post-rehab existence in Chicago emotionally devastated, broke, and afraid to get close to other people. But then Leonard comes back into his life, and everything changes. Leonard offers his "son" lucrative—if illegal and slightly dangerous—employment. He teaches James to enjoy life, sober, for the first time. He instructs him in the art of "living boldly," pushes him to pursue his passion for writing, and provides a watchful and supportive veil of protection under which James can get his life together. Both Leonard's and James's careers flourish…but then Leonard vanishes. When the reasons behind his mysterious absence are revealed, the book opens up in unexpected emotional ways.

Comment:
My Friend Leonard continues on from where Frey's debut memoir, A Million Little Pieces (2003), ended. At the time it was published, the reviews for My Friend Leonard were very strong.  However, as you no doubt recollect, in January this year The Smoking Gun published an article about Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, in which they claimed that he had fabricated key parts of the book - a fact that was later confirmed in public statements by Frey and his publisher.  Although My Friend Leonard did not come under the same detailed scrutiny as Frey's first book, it has to be assumed that it too would be better described as a "novel based on a true story".

This review was originally published in August 2005, and has been updated for the May 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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