JOHN MURRAY, £16.99. ORDER FOR £15.99 WITH FREE P&P FROM 0870 079 8897
My Friend Leonard, by James Frey
A fixer who served up steak and Modigliani
Thursday 21 July 2005
Composed in the same machine-gun rhythm, the book begins with Frey finishing a stint in jail - for crimes committed before rehab - and then racing to Chicago to find that his lover has committed suicide. Suddenly, he's alone and dealing with the wildest grief. It's the first big test of his attempt to stay sober.
Enter Leonard, Frey's mysteriously wealthy bet-placing chum from Las Vegas, who watched over him in rehab. After loaning Frey $30,000, Leonard tracks him down and breaks into his apartment. Leonard gives Frey a pep talk, a wad of cash and a steak dinner - and a job unlike any job Frey has ever had.
Given that these events took place roughly a decade earlier, a reader is right to wonder how Frey could recall dialogue so exactly. This is not a document, however, but a rendering, just as Van Gogh's self-portrait distorts his face to capture emotions .
Frey's faithfulness to these feelings, no matter how embarrassing and childish, makes My Friend Leonard a deeply affecting book. A tiring one, too: read it and you will appreciate the way Frey weathered a full-frontal assault from emotions he didn't know existed. That, in the end, is what drugs do. They don't soothe feelings; they simply cover them with a quilt of numbness. In My Friend Leonard, Frey describes adjusting to life without that protective blanket. The effect is vivid, splashy and mesmerising.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
This house and dental clinic 'piled up like bricks on the brink of collapsing' is why Japan wins at architecture
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
James Cameron hypes up Avatar sequels: 'You will s**t yourself with your mouth wide open'
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'