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Directing Herbert White: Poems Paperback – March 18, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Franco’s commitment to poetry has heretofore been expressed in films. He played Allen Ginsberg in Howl; created and starred in The Broken Tower, a film about Hart Crane; and made a short film based on Frank Bidart’s searing poem about a necrophiliac child-murderer, “Herbert White.” This volume’s title poem is an homage to Bidart, who, like Franco, grew up in California, albeit when, as Franco imagines, being gay was a “secret so dark that he could tell no one.” As in his novel, Actors Anonymous (2013), Franco—protean, determined, sly, and armed with five MFAs, including one in poetry—writes audaciously about the perversities of Hollywood and how it decimates the vulnerable. He portrays such movie-industry casualties as Lindsay Lohan, River Phoenix, and Sal Mineo, and reveals his own grappling with the largesse and absurdities of celebrity and, ultimately, a confusion of selves: “This fake me is louder / Than the real me, and he / Is the one everyone knows.” Franco’s bold and magnetic examination of life in the mirrored hall of make-believe and fame taps deeply into our collective mythology. --Donna Seaman

Review

"Franco's bold and magnetic examination of life in the mirrored hall of make-believe and fame taps deeply into our collective mythology." —Booklist
 
"The stories in Directing Herbert White disconcert and titillate, they swagger and collapse, andthey explore what it feels like to be a character. How did we get to be this way? is the unspoken question—weird, ugly humans, on and off stage, trying and failing? Franco's poems are brave and whip-like, and in the center of their mirrored labyrinth, they house and refine a vulnerable, curious, and very distinct poetic sentience." —Tony Hoagland
 
"A star-studded cast moves like ghosts across the screen of James Franco's poetic consciousness, imbuing the writing with scenes of icons who are also humans replete with sorrow and presence in our own psyches. James Dean, Monica Vitti, Catherine Deneuve, Sal Mineo, Heath Ledger pass and fade. The author has a wonderful self-reflexive insouciance about his own fame and roles inhabited, from Hart Crane to Allen Ginsberg to Harvey Milk's lover. Franco is a gifted contemporary Renaissance kind of guy, surveying the waterfront of illusion, suffering, and impermanence. We leave the movie theater a little wiser." —Anne Waldman
 
"There's never been a book quite like this. Hollywood—fame, celebrity, the promise of becoming an artist—is the beast at its center. Franco knows it like Melville knows whaling. Hollywood in this book devours its young. Obsessed with myths about its own past, it can be survived only by finding a vantage point that is not Hollywood. Bold yet subtle, fearless yet disarming, Franco has made a book you will never forget." —Frank Bidart

"Individually and collectively, the poems in James Franco's Directing Herbert White dramatize the fever dream of American celebrity culture while coolly taking that fever's pulse. In a style both direct and elusive, as anguished as it is ironic, Franco shows us what it feels like to be, at one and the same time, looked at and invisible, acting and acted upon. But what makes this book so distinctive and powerful is the disturbing image of ourselves we see reflected back at us from the funhouse mirror of our public fantasies." —Alan Shapiro
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555976735
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976736
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

I'm still trying to figure out if it's a joke or not.
Jane
Actor James Franco give insight into his life and the life of Hollywood!
Vanessa Cantero
The poetry is raw and really evokes emotion and ideas.
Julie Ieraci

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Julie Ieraci on August 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
I dont get why everybody is bagging on this book, its actually quite good. The style is strange, but the words and the images the poems paint in your head are fantastic. The poetry is raw and really evokes emotion and ideas. An example of this is an excerpt from the first poem: Because

Because I played a knight
Because I was handsome,

This was the life I made for myself.

Years later, I decided to look at what I made,
And I watched myself in all the old movies, and I hated the guy I saw

Because he was the one who stayed after I died.

I highly recommend reading the full poem and the book as well.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vanessa Cantero on May 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed these poems. Actor James Franco give insight into his life and the life of Hollywood! Must read!
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21 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A.Settle on March 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of course I think of James Franco in Spider -Man, Oz the Great and Powerful and SNL and part of me was reluctant to give him any credit as a poet and a writer. I bought his book out of curiosity and found myself reading poem after poem until I had digested them all. I like his free form modernistic style, his honesty and blunt wording. He reveals himself without inhibition and leaves the reader with his essence. I sincerely enjoyed it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ruby on October 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No matter how much hate James Franco gets, I love the artist he is. I love his writing and his movies. This poetry book was a great quick read for me. If you love free verse this is a must read.
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Amazing book written by a very talented man. I got the book used and it looked brand new except for a black line underneath the bottom of the book but that didn't bother me at all.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve on January 9, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not sure what initially drew me to James Franco. The man has charisma, but I wanted to sample some of his written work. I started with this, his book of poetry. I'm glad I did. There was negativity in these reviews. Without passing judgement--- I suspect there were a few Students of Poetry out there with huge student loan debt and a lot of steaming, hissing anger to take out on a guy who already has a successful career as an 'actor'. I have read enough poetry in my lifetime to appreciate all types, and have to admit I was intrigued by Mr Franco's style. His poetry reflects on his early life, and years in Hollywood, along with the intrigue and restlessness that accompanied it. The poem 'LOS ANGELES PROVERB' says:

"The movie palaces were built with the bones
of ten million actresses, And the
great mansions of Bel Air and
Beverly Hills and Brentwood and the
Palisades
Are the mausoleums of naked, drugged,
stupid, happy, young actors, all gone."

That, in my mind, sums up the gospel truth of Hollywood.

When I started to read these, I realized this man had his own voice. Many are disappointed that they don't have the style of other established poets, but to me that is what made these poems so essential. Read through these and you will see why I call his style FEARLESS! Basically unafraid to take on almost any subject. While some might complain that this work is not 'The Raven', that's not the point. This is a wonderful beginning to his body of work. I'm sure there's more on the way.

Two poems that stuck with me were, 'HOW SOON IS NOW?
Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard D. Wuerth on September 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James Franco seems to be good at whatever he takes on. The is an interesting book of poems. Some provocative inside Hollywood insights. Sweet little book, easy to read and fun.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jeffrey on April 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked that he talked a lot about his acting, but it wasn't witty enough for me. If you like Franco then you will like it though.
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