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A California Childhood Hardcover – June 18, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Editions; 1ST edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608872025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608872022
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 7.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

James Franco is an actor, director, author, and visual artist. His film appearances include Milk, Pineapple Express, Howl, and 127 Hours, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He is the author of the collection Palo Alto, and his writing has been published in Esquire, Vanity Fair, N+1, The Wall Street Journal, and McSweeney’s. Franco’s art has been exhibited throughout the world including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s PS1 in New York, the Clocktower Gallery in New York, and the Peres Projects in Berlin. He lives in New York City.

More About the Author

James Franco is an actor, director, screenwriter, and artist. His film appearances include "Milk," "Pineapple Express," the "Spider-Man" trilogy, and upcoming appearances in "Eat, Pray, Love," and "Howl," in which he portrays beat poet Allen Ginsberg. On television, he starred in the critically acclaimed series "Freaks and Geeks." Franco has also written, directed and starred in several short plays, two of which -- "Fool's Gold" and "The Ape" -- he adapted into feature-length films. He also wrote and directed the film "Good Time Max." Franco will be participating in an upcoming gallery show at Deitch Projects in New York, and his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, McSweeney's, and other publications

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It has beautiful pictures and is a wonderful story to read.
Christy Khoury
If you pick up this book and start reading, you're not going to get your run-of-the-mill, "We had four brothers....mom was great" autobiography.
Matthew Brando
He includes personal essays he has written, drawings, poetry, and much more has has done.
Melissa G

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Brando on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you pick up this book and start reading, you're not going to get your run-of-the-mill, "We had four brothers....mom was great" autobiography. Franco is more of a human being than that; he's an artist.

He's respects art, and you'll see why. I'm a firm believer in whatever past you've had, it shapes the present and future self. My dad over here in Ohio never took me to any religious festivities outside of Catholicism, while Franco's dad took him to a Hindu ritual in which Franco wrote about in his college essay. Maybe it's the west-coast mentality of broadening your child's horizons; in which, shaped Franco into who he is today...

While having the typical autobiographic paragraph or two of exposition of him growing up, he's included tons of family photographs, several poems, paintings that he's done. He even wrote short stories about fictional characters, even though they sound a lot like his experiences. This all, representing his childhood.

Such a fun read and a great purchase... That is, if you respect art and literature like Franco does... and picking his very-aloof brain a bit further than you can get by watching Letterman interviews on YouTube is worth the twenty dollars alone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ian K. Arens on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a nice book, not a great book, which highlights many of Franco's obvious talents. It's a book for browsing: beautifully produced, with about a zillion photographs of James and his family resulting in a pleasant nostalgic feel and it contains several artworks, poems and short-stories by Franco himself. He is attractive and talented and clearly aware of this fact, although not in a narcissistic or off-putting way. His own reminiscences as a young man growing up in California and his accounts of other young men and adolescents growing up (fictionalized autobiographical accounts, one guesses) all culminate in a volume which is satisfying and enjoyable. Nice to have on one's book-shelves.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love James Franco. A glimpse into his upbringing which clearly shaped the man he is today. Strong family bond continues. Talented and bright, Franco never disappoints.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Richard Derus on March 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rating: 3.9* of five

The Book Description: In A California Childhood Franco plays with the concept of memoir through personal snapshots, sketches, paintings, poems, and stories. "I was born in 1978 at Stanford Hospital and spent my first eighteen years in a single house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Palo Alto," Franco writes in his introduction. Steve Jobs's daughter and the grandson of one of the Hewlett-Packard founders may have both been in his graduating class, but just across the freeway from his home turf lay East Palo Alto, which in 1992 had the highest murder rate per capita in the country. For Franco, the terrain of his upbringing is fraught with the complication of a city divided. But within that diversity, universal aspects of adolescence rise to the surface, and those are the subjects at the heart of Franco's work.

Ultimately this is a portrait of a childhood brightened by California sunshine, but with trouble awaiting in the shadows. At turns funny, dark, and emotional, the journey of this book delivers an undeniable immediacy. And at the end the reader is left wondering just where the line of Franco's art ends and where his true life begins.

My Review: I reviewed on GoodReads Franco's debut collection of short stories, [Palo Alto], last year, and gave it some good props. I liked Franco's storytelling, and I liked the take he brought to being a kid in a place and at a time of great change.

Back we go to the same well, childhood in Palo Alto, for this more multimedia experience of being young and beautiful in Paradise. Photos, photos, gawd did this kid have photos taken of him!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Pablo H on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Franco is, without doubt, one of those rare breeds; an intelligent actor. "A California Childhood" gives him an opportunity to showcase his many talents - writing prose, poetry, art, photography etc.

It is an unusual format for a book - with a compilation of anecdotes from childhood via school reports, his mother's diary entry, photographs from childhood and high school and of course, a compilation of short stories.

Those who have read Franco's "Palo Alto" will know that he mastered the very difficult genre of the short story. His prose is both lyrical and effortless.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Farron M Garling on April 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First of all, I'd like to thank Mr. Franco for allowing us such intimate access into his life and his formative years. So much of one's worldview and habitual preoccupations are created during childhood and adolescence.

I feel like James gets a lot of flack from people because he uses his own life and experiences as source material for his work (writing and his other artistic pursuits). But I respect him for that exact reason - most people try to create alternate worlds to theoretically escape from their banal existence. James owns his life and all of this experiences (good, bad, trivial, significant) and uses them in a creative, fresh way. As Thoreau once said, "I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well. Unfortunately, I am confined by this theme by the narrowness of my experience".

I thought the book itself was beautifully designed and I also enjoyed the structure of the book. Overall, it's a very intimate look into his early life, including photos, poems, and even his High School report card and his mother's diary from when he was baby.

I have a theory involving the creative mind. From what I've seen, there seems to be a direct link connecting creativity to a heightened sense of observation/attention to detail. Franco proves this theory. In recollecting the smallest of details (ex. "I got rollerblades for Christmas and only used them once"), the book becomes a mosaic of James' childhood - a hodgepodge of memories/moments that make up the man. Almost as a character sketch for his veridical identity.

I particularly liked the addition of the poems and "old paintings". I can wholeheartedly relate to the sports poems, as I was also 'forced' to play soccer as a kid and hated every minute of it.
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