Actor James Franco doesn’t want his mom, Betsy, who is a published writer, to read his book, Palo Alto, a collection of short stories. His mother who is the author of Metamorphosis: Junior Year, a YA book illustrated by James brother, Tom, will have to wait since James Franco’s book is autobiographical.
All the pranks he played in the ’90s while watching Wayne’s World are part of his repertoire in his collection some filled with gore and shocking post modern talk. He has been compared to the author of American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis.
To this reader, including in the manner he depicts the identity problems of teenagers, Franco is more like The Outsiders writer, S.E. Hinton.
“In a lot of ways (the book is autobiographic), but the events aren’t always based on actual fact. Smoking Gun (website) shouldn’t research the book and say, ‘James never went through this,” the actor said in an interview in People magazine.
The eleven titles in the collection speak for themselves– “American History” is about a high school freshman who attempts to impress a girl during a classroom portraying a slave driver, “I Could Kill Someone,” is about a lonely teenager who buys a gun with the aim of killing a bully and there are other stories including “Killing Animals,” and “Jack-O” which was the story that originally appeared in Esquire about slamming a car .
The stories aren’t memorable for the characters and his writing is stoic and terse at times:
“One night in ninth grade we were drunk and wandering around the neighborhoods in a pack. There were some girls with us too. There was nowhere to go and no more alcohol.”
Franco’s story writing began as his UCLA undergrad thesis. He even solicited anecdotes from high school students in his hometown two years ago. “This can be a positive, frightening, life-changing, or sad experience,” he wrote in a flier at his old senior high in Palo Alto.
All in all it shows that he is serious about writing pursuing a Ph.D. in literature at Yale University. With time, he will find his voice which is the hardest step for any author.
Franco, James. Palo Alto Stories. Simon & Schuster.
Stein, Sadie. Critics Divided on James Franco’s “Raw, Unsettling Stories.” Jezebel.com
Bastidas, Anna and Rham, Megha. James Franco Requests Paly Students’ Short Stories. The Paly Voice.