James Frey is the author of the bestselling memoir A Million Little Pieces, detailing the horrors of his addicition and rehabilitation. His new book, My Friend Leonard, chronicles his adventures with Leonard, a colorful mobster he met in rehab, and the surrogate father-son relationship that evolved.
A few for you:
Why such a chick-lit cover for My Friend Leonard?
Because people wouldn't expect it from me, and for a couple other reasons which become clear at the end of the book.
How do you think Leonard would react to the book? Would he agree with your portrayal?
I think he'd laugh his head off, and totally dig it, and he would buy it for everyone he knew.
How difficult was it to adapt your own book [A Million Little Pieces] into a screenplay? How did you decide what to cut or change?
It has sucked, and continues to suck, for a variety of reasons, all of which have to do with how Hollywood functions. Deciding what to cut and what to keep was and is the least of my worries related to the film version of that book.
I think most people would be shocked to discover that the David Schwimmer romantic comedy Kissing a Fool came from the same gritty memoirist they've read. How do you creatively reconcile such diverse work?
I got paid to write Kissing a Fool, and it was movie money, made from working on those types of films, that allowed me to write a book. No different than working any type of job while trying to work on something better.
How do you connect (or disconnect) with gruesome details of your past when writing? Is it temporal distance or emotional separation -- or something else -- that gives you the proper perspective when describing past pains?
I try to keep a distance from the events, which helps me write about them more honestly and more fairly. I also have no desire to connect, or re-connect, to most the feelings involved. Neither book was cathartic to write, nor did I want them or expect them to be.
You've quite famously made some rather boastful remarks about yourself and at the expense of other writers, which, intentionally or not, positioned you as some sort of "literary bad boy." How do you feel now, after having written your second book (and ridden the publicity ride)?
I've never made boastful comments about myself. I've talked shit about some other writers, and I've been honest about my opinion of them, but I've never said I'm better than they are. What I have said, and I have said it very clearly, is that my goal is to be considered one of the most important writers of my time. Time and readership and what other books I write will determine if I'm successful in doing it.
Are you tired of journalists asking if you regret any past comments?
Most of the journalists who ask about it haven't checked to see what I actually said. Answering questions about shit I didn't say is a pain in my ass.
Do you think Will Leitch accurately parodied your writing style in his short piece, "My Trip to the Supermarket After Reading James Frey's A Million Little Pieces"?
I liked Will's piece. I saw right after he wrote it. I thought it was funny. He did a great job with it.
Favorite bar or restaurant in the city?
What place or thing would you declare a landmark?
Best celebrity sighting on the streets of New York?
Iran "The Blade" Barkley, who was the middleweight champion of the world in the early nineties.
What law would you pass to improve life in the city?
I would enforce the honking laws. Rush hour near any artery in or out of the city is a horn-induced nightmare.
Any advice for Mayor Bloomberg?
Stop letting Albany fuck us, stop letting Washington fuck us.