Thursday, 25 August 2011

My Friend Leonard - James Frey

Back of the Book Synopsis: Leonard is the best friend James Frey has ever had. When James was bent on self-destruction, it was Leonard - high-living, highly charismatic mobster - who saved his life. When James faced tremendous obstacles, both emotional and practical, to putting his life back together, Leonard offered support and his considerable, sometimes unmentionable influence and protection.
So when James is released from a stint in jail only to be rocked by a particularly cruel twist of fate, it's to Leonard that he turns for help. Leonard, of the outsized personality, who greets James as "My Son" at the top of his lungs when he rushes into his life to instruct him in the art of "living boldly." Leonard, who offers James lucrative - if illegal, mysterious, and slightly dangerous - employment when he needs it. Leonard, of the secret deals, of the surprising passions that belie his violent career choice, of fantastic generosity and ferocious loyalty. Leonard, who had more invested in their friendship than James could ever imagine.
Written with all the style and energy that are now hallmarks of Frey's work, My Friend Leonard showcases a brilliantly talented young writer rising to important new challenges - displaying surprising warmth, humor, and maturity without losing his intensity. My Friend Leonard is, at its core, about the responsibility that comes with loving someone and going out on any number of limbs to care for them. And it is a book that proves that one of the most provocative literary voices of his generation is also one of the most emphatically human.

Why I Read This Book: As you probably know, James Frey also wrote the book 'A Million Little Pieces' which Oprah raved about. I read that book, and enjoyed it. Then a whole bunch of awful was found out, and Oprah called him back on her show and scolded him for labeling it a memoir, when if fact it wasn't. After that, I came across 'My Friend Leonard' in the bookstore, and bought it out of curiosity.

Review: I'm not quite sure whether this book was published as a memoir or a novel, and I'm not really sure I care. From what I hear about James Frey he traveled a pretty tough road, so if he embellished some details in his writing, I'm okay with that. This book was really good. It's captivating, and it makes you cringe and gasp in all the right places. The dialogue is very short, and to the point, while at the same time being so descriptive its electrifying. Although I had watched the roast of James Frey on the Oprah show prior to reading this book, I don't think it changed my opinion of James Frey's writing, and if it did, it was only marginal. He is a good writer, and this and 'A Million Little Pieces' are good books. I don't like that he told a lie, but it really doesn't affect me, so I will let it slide. I don't know if I would go out of my way to recommend this book to anyone. I may have back when James Frey felt more like a relevant piece of news than an author, but not today. To be honest, it never comes to mind as a 'great' book. Maybe because I'm not at all a drug abusing person, so I don't really relate to the character, though I think this book has the ability to affect a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. There will be people who can relate to his experience, through their own or that of people they know. And others will just be shocked at the things that happen to James. Either way, it was a pretty good book, but probably not one that you would pick up to read again and again.


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