My Friend Leonard
At the end of his harrowing 2003 rehab memoir, A Million Little Pieces, James Frey was newly sober, in love with fellow patient Lilly, and turning himself in for felonies he committed while addicted to alcohol and crack. Frey begins his follow-up in jail. Upon release, he heads to Chicago to see Lilly, who commits suicide hours before his arrival; he describes his reaction in spare, staccato prose (”I can’t do anything. I have no control. I cry and wait for the heat”). Soon Leonard, the enigmatic Vegas mobster who’d served as a father figure in rehab, offers financial support and occasional courier jobs. Nothing terribly dangerous, alas, which leaves plenty of time for dull forays into romance. Frey’s writing has grown more disciplined, but My Friend Leonard lacks the viscerally dramatic episodes of Pieces — and an eleventh-hour surprise renders it less a revealing tribute to his pal than a drawn-out con that leaves more questions than answers.