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My Friend Leonard Hardcover – June 16, 2005
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Be not bold, be f-cking BOLD. Every time you meet someone, make a f-cking impression. Make them think you're the hottest shit in the world. Make them think they're gonna lose their job if they don't give you one. Look 'em in the eye, and never look away. Be confident and calm, be f-cking bold.
Hurricane Leonard storms into James's life, showering his young charge with multi-course feasts at steakhouses and Italian restaurants, courtside seats at Bulls' games, Cuban cigars, and an elaborate Super Bowl party in Los Angeles, all the while doling out wisdom on life and love and motivating James to stick to his burgeoning writing career. James even has a brief stint as an employee of Leonard's, though occupational hazards--like having a nine millimeter shoved in his face--prove too much for the novice bag man (though he does make enough to invest his earnings in a Picasso drawing). When Leonard drops out of sight for an extended period, his absence leaves readers aching to hear the familiar refrain of "My Son!" just one more time.
Frey sticks to the taut, staccato style that shot through A Million Little Pieces with such raw electricity. Surprisingly, the tone feels equally at home with this book's focus on friendship and extreme loyalty, and works to intensify the always-looming, adrenaline-rush threat of violence and the lure of the Fury that courses like a riptide throughout the book. Ultimately, it's a sense of hope, and humor even, that prevails and makes My Friend Leonard a stand-alone success. Despite his shady pedigree, you'll long to have a friend like Leonard just a phone call away. --Brad Thomas Parsons
James Frey's List of Books You Should Read
Tropic of Cancer
The Great Santini
See more recommendations from James Frey
Amazon.com's Significant Seven
James Frey graciously agreed to answer the questions we like to ask every author: the Amazon.com Significant Seven.
Q: What book has had the most significant impact on your life?
A: Tao te Ching by Lao Tsu. Completely changed how I think, behave, live my life. Nothing else comes close.
Q: You are stranded on a desert island with only one book, one CD, and one DVD--what are they?
A: The book would be the Tao te Ching, the CD would be some compilation of love songs from the 70s and 80s, and the DVD would be highlights from the history of the Cleveland Browns.
Q: What is the worst lie you've ever told?
A: No way I can answer that.
Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: I've been working at the same desk since I started writing. It's old and beaten-up and black. The rest of my workroom is empty, except for some crazy sh-- on the wall in front of me: pictures of people I admire, reproductions of artwork I dig, sayings that motivate me, things like--bare your soul, be bold, page a day motherfu--er page a day. I listen to music while I work, have a pile of nicotine gum and a couple cans of diet coke. My dogs are usually a couple feet away from me. I've always worked this way, probably always will.
Q: If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?
A: "Loved, lost, laughed, left."
Q: Who is the one person living or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
A: Winston Churchill
Q: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Highly, highly, highly recommended.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must read for anyone that has read a million little pieces. James Frey knows how to capture your attentionPublished 1 month ago by Jeff May
I picked up My Friend Leonard by chance while I was waiting for someone, and only realized that this was a followup book to the author’s earlier memoir, A Million Little Pieces... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Linda BkReviews
Loved this book. Left me waiting for a follow up book. ......thumbs up!!!!Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Such a great book. Of course don't read this if you haven't read A Million Little Pieces. The only thing that this book lacks is that two huge spoilers are at the end of AMLP. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Page turner with a satisfying storyline, well-written (despite lacking ANY grammar/punctuation/normal dialogue!) I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Allie K.
We were staying at a hotel and they had this book in the room to read picked it up and couldn't put it down. Found it at the library so I could finish reading it! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Paula Deere