Customer Reviews: My Friend Leonard
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VINE VOICEon May 23, 2006
I know the book and it's predecessor are all a big heap of lies, but if you approach it as strictly fiction, there's no denying the guy's a really great writer.Frey's frenetic style is the same as in "...Pieces", and although it's not the brutal foray into addiction recovery, it still manages to be both compelling and fast paced, as he pieces his life together after rehab and continues forging his relationship with gangster Leonard. Moralizing about integrity and honesty aside, I'll be interested to see what Frey produces next regardless of whether it's in the fiction, bio, or big fat liar section
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on December 27, 2005
A sad thing happens somewhere in the middle of this book: you learn that James Frey is a screenwriter and a producer and a director and you begin to question almost every sentence. Did it happen? Or does it simply make for a good story? Like others, I found the ending to be completely contrived--perhaps real, but related in a way that stinks of Hollywood. I put the book down and wished I had stopped at A Million Little Pieces, which was devastatingly brilliant whether contrived or not.
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on December 2, 2005
Like many others, I found out about James Frey through Oprah and her book club. I read A Million Little Pieces quickly and intensely. I didn't question it at the time. I just wanted to finish it and see what happened to all the interesting characters. I immediately bought the follow-up and had it delivered with the 2 day option. I couldn't wait for the book to arrive. Then, I started thinking more about AMLP and wondering how true some of the parts might be, like the part where they have the boxing match and the authorities leave and they are allowed to bet and eat as much as they want from a catered company. I started to realize there might be some over-elaboration from Frey. Maybe he made some of it up, maybe a lot more than some of it.

Then MFL arrives and I read it quickly. It lends itself to being read quickly because it is so repetitive. I agree with other reviews that say his style works much better as an addict than as a person who is distanced from that addiction. This style becomes difficult and tedious. I tire of it I take a break from reading I care less about what happens to the characters get a cold tasty cola. Skip a few pages. The writing becomes a parody of itself at times. It worked before but it doesn't in this book. In the "real world" Leonard becomes a much less believable character to me. Snapper is one dimensional at best. I lose interest in his loves he can't get it up with his beautiful new girlfriend he won't tell her why he still misses Lilly cries buys flowers cries. We hug. We seperate. We order steak, creamed spinach and a nice cold tasty cola.

OK, you get it. I'm disappointed I hoped for better I feel like it was made up makes the first book less believable stop now stop stop.
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on November 21, 2005
If you read Frey's first book then you must read this! After a Million Little Pieces, I had tons of questions I wanted answered. Why did Lilly do it? What was prison like? Is the fury still there? This book answers all of those questions and tells the unique and fascniating story of Frey's life after rehab. The ending is wonderful and brings closure to his story and all of the questions.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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on January 27, 2006
Frey got those anecdotes the no-risk way: he stole them from a real druggie/criminal author. A much better and more honest one, a guy named Eddie Little-specifically, Frey looted Little's great debut novel, Another Day in Paradise.

Little wrote a column called "Outlaw L.A." that ran when Frey was living in LA writing bad movies (eg Loving A Fool). I think Ruth's hunch was right: Frey, like the thief and conman he is, read Little's column, then his book, and started stealing. Naturally, he cut the key element of Little's books: the unhappy endings. The fake transformations suckers demand.

Another lie, those transformations; people live and die as unvaryingly as insects. Frey himself illustrates this perfectly. He was a yuppie schemer from birth, a trust-fund bum with a roof rat's adaptive, though repellent traits: a rat cunning and lack of shame.

Since Frey knows nothing about drugs and cares nothing for truth, he opts for the most lurid, criminal version of druggie life. He knows you pious hypocrites love that stuff. So he stole Little's stories, carefully leaving out all the good parts. See, that's the key: y'all like Frey not despite his weakness as a writer but because of it.

Compare his stories with Little's and you'll see this. Little generates horror and triumph without resorting to tearjerking; Frey zooms to the weepy scenes, too ignorant to fake the details he doesn't know and too cynical to care about filling in his crude narrative.

Compare outcomes: Little paid for his knowledge of junkie-dom and died a junkie's death; Frey stole Little's scars, tears and knowledge, skipped the weird stuff and sold you a cut-and-paste tale of tears ending with redemption, a hymn with a lot of curse words to cut the treacly taste.
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on February 3, 2006
My Friend Leonard is an amazing book. I read the entire book within two days, and about three sittings. James Frey has a great writing style. The pacing of the book is frenetic, fast, and chaotic.

All that being said, I can't give this book a high rating. I have no idea how much of this book is even real. It has been proven that the beginning, where Frey spends 3 months in jail, is a total fabrication. A fabrication that basically the entire book is based off of. I can't even truly believe that Leonard is a real person. Some part of me believes, but the other part of me is saying, "If he lied about this, why not about that?" Frey is currently making millions of dollars off of this book and its predecessor. That makes me sick. The fact is, if this was not supposed to be a "true" story, its chances of being published would diminish almost entirely. If you want to look at the even bigger picture, if A Million Little Pieces was exposed as the untruth it was before publishing, the publisher would have dropped it. I gave A Million Little Pieces 4 stars due to the fact that I thought it was a good book. I can't do that this time. I can't endorse something that is entirely fabricated. I loved reading My Friend Leonard, I just don't love that James Frey takes us all for fools who will believe anything we read.
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on January 16, 2006
More lies from someone who should be listed as a very poor fiction writer.
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on January 21, 2006
There are aspects of James Frey's writing that standout. For example, like any good writer, the book opens with a bang. Literally! Writing in first person, Frey describes getting hit in the head by another inmate.

But ultimately, the book drags on in too many places. And, recent accusations of fraud aside, the book truly lacks verisimilitude. It's almost like Frey is telling a story like it happened to him, but is actually a friend's tale.

One of the larger problems I have with the book is Frey's grammatical style. With no paragraph indentations and no quote marks separating the dialogue, it's almost like Frey is trying to channel the beatnik writers of the 1960's. And doing a poor job of it. Overall, it's a rather forgettable read.

And I just keep getting this feeling, like the hairs standing up on the back of my neck, that this is just some farce, and that only about 20% of what Frey claims happened to him actually happened to him. And he's laughing all the way to the bank.
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on November 16, 2005
After reading a million little pieces, I craved more from Frey he wrote his story in such a true, open way that I felt like I knew him and all the people involved in his life. When My Friend Leonard came out, I rushed to the store to buy it...This book was AMAZING! Better then the first...Following James's life after rehab and jail, a life without the substance abuse and watching him build himself back up was truly amamzing...Everything about this book is straight from the heart! The relationship that James and Lenoard formed is unlike any I have ever heard or had - I went through a roller coaster of feelings from laughing to crying....I can't say enough about it...after reading it, I made it my mission to have everyone I know read both books and I have yet to hear dissapointment from anyone.
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on January 13, 2006
Please explain to people how you can still have this posted on your website as nonfiction, when we know now that it is exaggerated and not true?
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