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' careers flourish, but then Leonard vanishes. When the reasons behind his mysterious absence are revealed, the book opens up in unexpected emotional ways.
My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliant and energetic young writer rising to important new challenges, displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity, without losing his intensity. This book proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.
Want to hear more about James Frey's stint in rehab? Be sure to listen to his first memoir, A Million Little Pieces.
©2005 James Frey; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and all the characters. It is well written and as compelling as any of the fiction I usually read. I saw a totally different side to those we usually look down on or fear. Leonard was actually endearing and had a very big heart. Will listen to this one again, watching for more from Mr. Frey.
Amazing. Leonard is a wonderfully created character and James-I feel like I KNOW that guy. His energy and humor are also amazing. The entire story from Snapper, to Lilly, to Brook and back to Lilly is truly interesting, unique and very, very captivating.
Every detail down to Bella and the description of the room in Vegas makes the listener feel like they are with Leonard and "his son" on their many journeys. A terrific book!
Unless you were living under a rock for the first few months of 2006, you're probably aware that there's a bit of a debate about whether James Frey was telling the truth when he wrote "A Million Little Pieces" and this book, its sequel. They're both supposed to be memoirs, and he's pretty much admitted that he made some of it up.
On the truth issue, "My Friend Leonard" is such an over the top tale that it doesn't really matter if it's true. If you read A Million Little Pieces, and you want to see how it all works out, you'll enjoy My Friend Leonard.
More accurately, you'll enjoy the second two-thirds of it. The beginning is overdone, with Frey discussing his did-he-or-didn't-he jail time, followed by a cinematic race to reach his girlfriend Lily that is both hard to believe and utterly unsuspensful to anyone who read the footnote at the conclusion of the last book.
My Friend Leonard never really gets out of melodrama mode, and that's OK. It is what it is - if it were straight-up fiction, it would still be hard to swallow some of it. I went with the assumption that it was all fiction, and I found it worked better for me.
The relationship at the center of the book, between Frey and the titular Leonard, is what drives the book forward. Enjoy the host of other characters who come into play, and especially enjoy the way the reader characterizes them with his voice. There's something just so darn likable about all of them that you genuinely feel bad when they have to go carry out some nasty business necessitated by organized crime.
As to whether it's all worth it, I'll say this: no matter how many times you read The Smoking Gun report on Frey, or replayed your TiVo'ed copy of Oprah, you won't see the end coming. It's a sad, poignant tale that has a message to pass along, and whether it's fact or fiction it's still a message worth hearing.
I enjoyed the listen. Call him a fraud if you must, but Frey knows how to spin a good yarn.
If you read the blurb, you know the basic story. It is a true story. It is true. It is written in the present tense. This makes it much more powerful. James cried. I cried. You will cry.
wow, what can i say?
This was a painful one to listen to.
The narrator was awful. I listed to two books prior to this one, and their narrations were far superior. I found Andy dull, and totally flat.
I agree with the other reviewers, the repetitions are a tad too much. stop it already!
I can say if another book comes out by Frey or if Andy reads another one, I will definitely skip it.
At times this was a good story and good listen, but the majority of it was very painful to listen too. The Author repeats his lines WAY too many times for my liking. I could have read it faster than I listened to it to...........just wanted to get to the end.
I know that James Frey has recently received some grief about the veracity (or lack there of) of the events in his books A Million Little Pieces and this book. I just wanted to say that both books are excellent and even if they were embellished, it in no way detracts from the enjoyment you will get from reading both. People need to lighten up.
I ordered this book based on the good customer reviews that I read. And, while the content was ok, I was quite disappointed in the book. There are three things about the author's style that I found really tiresome: 1) for dialogue, he WAY overused the format, "Leonard speaks:...Alison speaks:...I speak..." I got SO tired of hearing that! 2) his sentences are hugely predominantly subject, verb, clause, subject, verb, clause, subject, verb, clause. That was grating to me. 3) he also WAY overused the literary device of repeating exact sentences.
This is my humble opinion, of course. I personally enjoy books where the writing style itself does not constantly bash me on the head, but rather where I say to myself after a particularly well-done bit, "Wow! How'd you do that?" (to the author).
I'v also listened to the memoir Dry by Augusten Burroughs (sp?) which I enjoyed more.
I was meserized by "A Million Little Pieces" and awed even further by "My Friend Leonard".
It was one of the most gut wrenching experiences I've ever had, listening to these TRUE stories of James Frey's life and experiencing his struggles to stay clean and sober. He writes from his gut and in a totally straighforward way.
I have such admiration for all of the characters in both books for their perserverance and struggles on a moment to moment basis.
I hope James Frey continues to write more wonderful books like these because I will be anxiously looking forward to them.
After all the hubbub about if this is true or not, I finally decided out of need for another book that I'd just listen to this. It was a fine, sort of interesting story. Seems kind of implausible, but who knows? It doesn't really matter... if you take it as "just a story" or something that is "inspired by true events" then it's an okay book.
"Leonard is the best thing about Frey"
Yes. It's an interesting story, Leonard is a charmer. The sort of person you would want to write about, if he was ever in your life. It's an emotional story, at times.
Don't want to spoil it by revealing too much. When James learns to fly the spacecraft is a special moment.
The voice for Snapper was terrible. He gets introduced as being more like a bear than a man, I expected a real burly voice. The narrator gave him a wise-guy voice, something you'd associate to Joe Pesci. I was expecting James Gandolfini
Everyone else was alright. It must be said this narrator was far better at James' voice than the person who did A Million Little Pieces
Everyone needs a Leonard
Definitely worth listening to. Best to listen to A Million Little Pieces first but it's not essential.
One surprising thing though - I've come to the conclusion I really don't like James Frey. I think he's a c0ck actually.
"An excellent follow up"
I listened to this on Audio via Audible rather than actually read it and enjoyed it enormously.
I had read his first book “ A Million Little Pieces” a number of years ago and concerns that it would be problematic to leave such a long gap before beginning the follow up, proved to be unfounded.
I had also heard via a number of sources that Mr. Frey had been accused of being somewhat economical with the truth when it came to some of the details of his story. As far as I’m concerned it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference, he unfolds a fascinating account and which of us are not guilty of sometimes embellishing the truth here and there in pursuit of adding drama, excitement and pathos to enhance the storytelling.
The story picks up as James is about released from prison and join the love of his life, Lilly, who he met in rehab and is residing in a halfway house. Disaster and emotional trauma strike on the day of his release threatening to send him headlong back into his old destructive and potentially fatal addictions. Fortunately he is able to make contact with his old friend, “heart of gold” mafia /businessman from his rehab days, Leonard and shady sidekick Snapper, in the nick of time.
What follows is the charting of James’ journey to clean up his life and act, learn how to leave his depression and misery behind and look toward a future without addictions. All helped along with the copious funding, homespun wisdom and excessive appetites of his not always above board and legal mentor. It’s really pretty uplifting in its way. It’s also very funny in parts as well as moving.
James Frey has a very particular style, plenty of repetition of emotional emphasis, which is unusual, but packs a punch and often left me feeling as drained as he did! But the pace is fast and races along carrying you with it on a worthwhile and enjoyable journey from darkness into the light.
Top marks also for the narration, which handled the age difference between James and Leonard convincingly and believably throughout.
Like many of my favourite reads, the close proximity of some tissues may well be advised!
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