James Franco is a good man. We’ve said it before. It turns out he’s a pretty good writer, too. The actor/heartthrob/MFA student/artist just released his first book, a collection of short stories, titled Palo Alto: Stories. Here’s Salon’s summary:
Palo Alto is a suite of interconnected stories built around the tumult of coming of age, as Franco did, in Palo Alto, Calif., in the early 1990s. (We know how far we’ve gone back because of the strategically inserted signifiers: Guns N’ Roses, Schindler’s List, Gulf War.) These aren’t the dead-end working-class kids of Springsteen’s discography but kids of privilege, living in the precincts of Stanford and Lockheed Martin, smart enough to drop literary allusions but shooting blanks when it comes to ambition. White or Hispanic or mixed-race, they shun black company but worship black music, and they smoke and get stoned and drink their parents’ whiskey and vodka, and the boys call each other “bitch” and “faggot” and compete to see who can have sex with the most girls.
Palo Alto has its problems. The narrative voice isn’t varied enough, and there’s a sometimes debilitating sense of anger—but we’ll give him a pass. The dialogue is great, and it’s impressive enough that this collection isn’t just complete crap. With everything Franco has on his plate, Palo Alto gets our recommendation.
Franco spoke with us back in July: