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Palo Alto: Stories by James Franco
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Palo Alto: Stories

by James Franco

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
James Franco is one of those super-multi-talented people that makes you feel bad because you haven't acheived anything in life and in comparison to him, never will. He's a famous actor, having played the bad boy on Freaks and Geeks and most recently seen on the big screen cutting his arm off in 127 hours and being Allen Ginsberg in Howl. He's a painter, he's ridiculously attractive and he's got a masters degree. Wotta man. But don’t let that put you off reading his book. As part of the aforementioned degree, Franco wrote a series of short stories meditating on the lives of teenagers in the American town of Palo Alto. And so Palo Alto the book came about. It’s really very easy to read, with the simplicity of the writing reflecting the naivety of most of the characters. It is about bad kids struggling to be good, or maybe it is about good kids struggling to be bad. It is about the things kids get up to in a small town, like drinking and smoking and making friends and going to parties and more drinking and making a move on that guy/girl you like and getting into trouble with the cops or school or your parents and generally trying not to be a weirdo that everybody hates. I enjoyed every story in the book, despite the recklessness , but some of the plots or events in different stories were very similar. People get run over by cars on multiple occasions. Which leads me to conclude that Franco ran over someone with a car once and is pretty hung up about it. But that’s okay because it makes for some interesting reading. ( )
  poolspy | Aug 21, 2013 |
Dark ( )
  nicdar111 | Jun 19, 2013 |
I don't know why I read this. Morbid curiosity? A secret taste for masochism? But I remember this was all I brought with me while waiting to renew my health card, and no. Just no. ( )
  anawkwardreader | Mar 30, 2013 |
Rating: 3.875* of five

The Book Report: Sixteen short stories about adolescent life in upper middle class America. The author hailing from there, he's written about Palo Alto, California. It could as easily be Cedar Park, Texas, or Rockville Centre, New York. The stories are very much in the vein of adolescence itself, working the same nerve in me as adolescents do: Getting drunk, getting high, hooking up, wondering if you're the only one, being ostracized, being Too Cool for School, realizing you're filled with rage but not knowing why or what you're raging against.


My Review: I hear people say their high school or college years were so great, so amazing, The Best Years of My Life, and I think, “What planet are YOU from?” I hated adolescence, and I still do. Clearasil and hormones and emotional devastation. Ugh, no thanks, I been there and feel lucky to have escaped at all, though certainly scathed.

So why read this collection of explicitly adolescence-themed stories? Because James Franco is an artist whose work I find really compelling. If you haven't watched 127 Hours, do. This man isn't just another pretty face, he's got what the Finns call sisu. (Google it, the explanation would take too much space in a short review.) The Academy Awards show he couldn't pull off, but movies yes, and writing yes.

His writing is very good. It's not tricky, or show-offy, or self-conscious. It's direct and it's clear and it's nuanced. He uses words the way cops use fingerprint powder, to show you the shape of his ideas without getting you all greasy with hand-sweat and forehead blood. Make no mistake, it's not easy getting words down to this level of fineness, it takes mental grinding and grinding and grinding until there isn't a lump or a clot or a chunk to be seen. Silky, smooth, sensually exciting as it flows past you to take coherent shape in front of you: Stories, people, goddamned annoying kids formed of smoke and ash and powder, living in flashes of lightning—your attention please, there is something interesting happening over here, and if we're lucky, this thirtysomething writer will give us more. Soon. ( )
4 vote richardderus | Mar 9, 2012 |
James Franco is one of those super-multi-talented people that makes you feel bad because you haven't acheived anything in life and in comparison to him, never will. He's a famous actor, having played the bad boy on Freaks and Geeks and most recently seen on the big screen cutting his arm off in 127 hours and being Allen Ginsberg in Howl. He's a painter, he's ridiculously attractive and he's got a masters degree. Wotta man. But don’t let that put you off reading his book. As part of the aforementioned degree, Franco wrote a series of short stories meditating on the lives of teenagers in the American town of Palo Alto. And so Palo Alto the book came about. It’s really very easy to read, with the simplicity of the writing reflecting the naivety of most of the characters. It is about bad kids struggling to be good, or maybe it is about good kids struggling to be bad. It is about the things kids get up to in a small town, like drinking and smoking and making friends and going to parties and more drinking and making a move on that guy/girl you like and getting into trouble with the cops or school or your parents and generally trying not to be a weirdo that everybody hates. I enjoyed every story in the book, despite the recklessness , but some of the plots or events in different stories were very similar. People get run over by cars on multiple occasions. Which leads me to conclude that Franco ran over someone with a car once and is pretty hung up about it. But that’s okay because it makes for some interesting reading. ( )
  alono | Dec 11, 2011 |
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A fiercely vivid collection of stories about troubled California adolescents and misfits.

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