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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds Expectations
Mr Franco has done a wonder with this book. It offers a cohesive story, and a thoughtful one. While told in fragments loosely tied to the twelve step philosophy, it doesn't lose focus. There are some memorable passages from various characters, and while it didn't feel life-changing, Mr. Franco was able to put words to abstract thoughts and emotions I and many others from...
Published 14 months ago by Inqandu

versus
112 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a novel, but does reveal Franco's demons...
First off, I should say I've been a fan of James Franco's film work. I shied away from reading Palo Alto, his not-very-well-received collection of short stories, and I think I did so because I was afraid I would be disappointed. The thing about writing is (unlike acting), you can't hide. The psyche of the writer comes through. And in this book, which is misleadingly...
Published 14 months ago by Gabriella West


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112 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a novel, but does reveal Franco's demons..., October 19, 2013
By 
Gabriella West (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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First off, I should say I've been a fan of James Franco's film work. I shied away from reading Palo Alto, his not-very-well-received collection of short stories, and I think I did so because I was afraid I would be disappointed. The thing about writing is (unlike acting), you can't hide. The psyche of the writer comes through. And in this book, which is misleadingly termed a novel, James Franco does reveal himself in the guise of multiple "fictional" characters.

So this is categorized by Kindle in the memoir section, and in my view it's creative nonfiction. The point being, Franco isn't a good enough writer yet to craft a novel. And this would be OK if the vignettes in Actors Anonymous really added up to something. Franco takes a hard line when it comes to acting teachers, acting classes, and other actors. But some of his insights are valuable. Here's one: "To have an inside, there always needs to be an outside. The more elite the inside, the more people are on the outside. Get in there, but don't live in there. Be on both sides."

This is the Franco I've liked--the benign, seemingly self-confident, subversive, funny guy. But that guy is pretty much a mask, Franco reveals in this book. After one description of a character who resembles himself called "the Actor," he concludes, "In actuality, he probably wasn't charming at all."

At some level I think Franco wants to be *known* rather than loved. (He's had the love and adulation for years, and it doesn't seem to have helped him much.) And I think Franco hates his persona, too, and this book is an attempt to lift the lid.

The book AA most reminded me of was Last Exit to Brooklyn, oddly enough. As I read the book, with its selection of unpleasant male characters who are all addicts or dead-end people in some way, I thought about Hubert Selby, Jr. I read Last Exit while in college and hated it. I didn't hate its hapless characters. I hated the inner ugliness of the author, which came across on the page. I never read any other of his books.

Franco's inner ugliness also comes across--which is, frankly, distressing. He boasts about all the sex actors get. He seems incredibly immature and insecure. There is one section, about "his" exploits in France with a couple of women he gives rude names to, that probably is the most fictional section of the book, but is just utterly repellent. Franco has yet to learn that while Hollywood is a toxic place, there are different rules for the writing game. You have to have a scintilla of hard-won wisdom and at least show a tiny bit of interest in personal growth. Franco thinks it's fine to dub all older women ugly and to make clear that he only pursues much younger, pretty women. His attitude toward sex is blithely disconnected and I am not sure how aware he is of his predatory attitudes. (I would say "nature," but that seems too cruel, doesn't it?) At one point he criticizes Marilyn Monroe for her cottage-cheese thighs!

I think Franco should look at his attitude towards women. He likes women as sexual objects but he clearly doesn't "like" them. Maybe that's why he does so many gay roles, not out of some wonderful, life-embracing bisexuality, but because he just doesn't like his female co-stars. Do they bore him at this point? Or is he compelled to sleep with them and finds this irritating? Who knows...

What worked best in the book for me was the segment where a former heroin addict called Sean is working at a fast food restaurant and ends up having sex with an odd-looking Latino co-worker for money, all the while attending AA meetings and pretending to be "in recovery." There was a real desperation here, and I liked the intensity and detail that Franco brought to it.

Then toward the end, Franco gets to the subject of his father, who has died suddenly. Again, there's a compelling quality to these parts and an Oedipal intensity. It's thinly disguised autobiography. But he basically throws his father under the bus. I'm sure the older Mr. Franco was a piece of work, but the younger Mr. Franco clearly is, too.

The book made me muse about a young man escaping a narcissistic father who doesn't understand, support, or love him. He goes to Hollywood to reinvent himself. Surely he must have served under a number of narcissistic fathers there, since the power structure is pretty much all male. I can understand his need to escape and transcend acting at this point. He basically admits he's coasting in his film work. I can see that writing would offer more freedom, more of an escape. Plus, it's an "upgrade," and intelligent people take you seriously.

But I don't know, judging by this book, if Franco really can keep a foot in both worlds. If this book gets Franco laid less often... hey, it might be a good thing. Writers need insight and solitude; they need to have self-discipline. Franco still seems to have the mentality of a young, immature actor. All the same, there is a bravery in revealing that he's not a nice guy (antisocial personality disorder came to mind). It's just that doing that is not the same thing as writing a good book.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Glad I borrowed it rather than buying., October 24, 2013
Borrowed this book using my Prime account out of nothing but rabid curiosity--I've always considered Franco one of the more intelligent and less vapid actors constantly in the limelight. Turns out, though he very well may be intelligent, he can't write worth a damn. This is nothing but a book full of two sentence paragraphs of rambling, disorganized thoughts. It appears he kept a diary when angry about his career and then published it. To call it a novel is absurd. There are bits and pieces of stories, maybe, but every time you get a little excited that something with a character may occur, he delves back into the fragmented raving.

I'm essentially filing this under the Paris Hilton singing of the publishing industry. If an average Joe gave this "book" to an agent they would be laughed out of the office and possibly institutionalized.
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47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, October 19, 2013
This review is from: Actors Anonymous (Hardcover)
Repetitious. Dull. Self-involved. There seems to be no point to this book other than Franco's tedious analysis of his own brain and its contents. I like Franco as an actor. As an author? No.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not terrible, not great not-novel, November 17, 2013
This was a free rental ebook for Amazon Prime members, so I figured, why not?

Actors Anonymous is not terrible. I read the whole thing and felt engaged for most of it. The writing is decent--even gripping in some parts (Franco can really build up suspense when he has to) and I feel like I gained a lot of insight into the world of actors, whether they be aspiring, failed, and successful--something I never really knew or thought much about before. Franco made Hollywood--a distant world of fantasy--seem like a real place populated by real people.

Be advised that, despite what the subtitle tells you, Actors Anonymous is not a novel. It's a book of short stories. A lot of it reads like non-fiction--especially a long bit at the beginning where Franco (or, the "narrator") talks about the personalities and motivations of the actors and directors who are his role models. I suppose Franco wants it to be a novel because that sounds weightier and more significant--so it's funny that the way he "novelizes" it is by tying some of the stories together with a common narrative thread, and characters who appear in several seemingly separate stories, and you only realize that they're connected after you've read most of them. This is funny to me because this metafictional trick that was hot in highbrow literary fiction maybe fifty years ago is now mostly used by big-budget movies that want to appear thoughtful and serious and edgy. James Franco is aware of this irony, because another old metafictional trick he uses is inserting his self-doubt and awareness of his gimmicky approach to writing in a section of footnote-commentary near the end. Sorry James but I don't think that's enough to make you a great novelist.

So the book's not terrible but not that good either. If I had paid money to read it I would probably regret it but I didn't so I don't. Read it if you feel like it and maybe you'll have a good time. I'm trying to write a meta-review that is a totally useless non-review, please vote my review "useful" to get in on the meta-action :)
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37 of 48 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could return it, October 19, 2013
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The writing itself is as clear and referential as would be expected from James Franco, but this level of pointless navel-gazing is ridiculous. It sounds like it was written by someone with plenty of education, but nothing really to say. There's no story. There's no character development; in fact, it's sometimes difficult to follow who's voicing each chapter--James, a James alter-ego, a completely different character? It's not funny, it's not enriching, it's just dull. Wish I could say it was worth the six bucks.
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nice Cover! Terrible book!, November 2, 2013
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This review is from: Actors Anonymous (Hardcover)
Terrible. Not funny, interesting or even artsy. 1/3 ranting about the acting business, 1/3 insider "S_ said this and B_ that", 1/3 collegial "I got laid this way". If you have any "respect" for this actor by the end of the book you won't have any.
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28 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst piece of, October 21, 2013
By 
Kevin D (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
sh*t I've ever read. It's like having a drunk guy with a hugely inflated ego yell in my ear about the people he knows and how friggin awesome he is. I get it James, you're in movies.

He has not lost a fan. He has gone beyond that and gained himself an enemy.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sophomoric is the most generous way to describe this book, October 19, 2013
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James Franco's new "novel," _Actors Anonymous_ is really terrible. It's self-absorbed, pretentious, and badly written. The glimpses of wit are miles deep in reflections that should be so obvious that it is painful to watch them unfold in weak narration and gimmicky conceit.

Don't bother.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This should not have been published., April 13, 2014
By 
Ian MacAllen (New Jersey, United States) - See all my reviews
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Everyone involved in this project, except maybe the accountants, should feel ashamed of the results of this book. That an editor lent his name to this project is a testament to the desperation of the publishing industry to convert celebrity into cash. Hopefully the publisher's profit from his book has funded some actual work of literature.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds Expectations, October 19, 2013
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Mr Franco has done a wonder with this book. It offers a cohesive story, and a thoughtful one. While told in fragments loosely tied to the twelve step philosophy, it doesn't lose focus. There are some memorable passages from various characters, and while it didn't feel life-changing, Mr. Franco was able to put words to abstract thoughts and emotions I and many others from his generation have probably been having for some time. If you're on the fence, I it is only 6 dollars and definitely worth a read.
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Actors Anonymous
Actors Anonymous by James Franco (Hardcover - October 15, 2013)
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