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Palo Alto: Stories Paperback – June 7, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the stuff of every Creative Writing class you took as an undergrad. It's all Holden Caulfield crabby and Bret Easton Ellis name-droppy; gruesome with those obnoxious one-liner sentences that are meant to be profound in their brevity. The racial issues are slapped on strangely, and the tone is mushy oatmeal bland. "Killing Animals" was worth reading, but even then, it feels like Ellis fan fiction.
Now I'm pretending Franco did write them. Look my man, you have many rich and successful friends. Many of whom are writers who like you because you're a cool dude. You're also a hunk. This is working against you. If my mom wrote a book called "imma Real Gud Mama", I'd tell her she was the next Faulkner.
Get some unbiased advice, sweetheart. And call me.
But there's a problem. The planet's brightest students have to crawl over broken glass to complete one of these graduate programs. How is it possible that Franco can do six at the same time? There are several possibilities. Maybe Franco really is the second coming of Leonardo da Vinci. But here's a line from one of his short stories: "The building is beige, but the shadows make it shadow-color." So maybe not.
It's more likely that Franco is riding some sort of grotesque wave of snowballing prestige, one that attempts to shield him from his quite evident averageness. It's been said that his classmates feel protective of him. In other words, they like him, they're charmed by him, they're pleased to have him in their midst, and they want to shield him from the fact that he's in a million miles over his head.
Franco is unique, but in a totally typical way. He is the cartoonish example of the high-achieving young person who takes 15 AP classes and does 20 extracurriculars in order to look impressive and gain status and admission and acceptance. But it isn't possible to do that many things with any sort of skill or competence. The result is a book that is so vapid and soulless and contrived as to be hard to look at.
Palo Alto is a super wealthy and super conservative suburb full of doctors and Stanford professors. Most of the houses are enormous and expensive, half the cars are Mercedes, and the schools are exceptional because the city is loaded. A lot of teenagers became bored of being well to do and having status and high educational expectations to live up to. This didn't come across much at all in the book. These characters just seemed like average, stupid, overly sexed teenagers.
Aside from the location references, why was it even called Palo Alto?
The "black gaping gap" line is missing from the book, however the prose maintains the choppy, voiceless, faux-80's-minimalism of that piece throughout. I recommend to anyone considering a purchase: go online, read "Into the Black." If you love it then hey, good for you, James has a fan. If not, don't bother, unless you are like me and feel the need to masochistically go through it all with a red pen.
Franco is a fine writer if your standards are "Creative Writing Intermediate Class." These stories would not have wowed me in an advanced or master class and they certainly do not merit publishing. It is an insult to writing students everywhere to see this in print, especially lauded by Amy Hempel and Mona Simpson (those endorsements almost made me cry). It is clear that if, like the rest of us, Franco had taken a four-year program, he could emerge as a decent writer. However his experience is slapdash and copycat and it shows. I have read far, far better stories by my peers and it is beyond frustrating knowing how hard they will have to work to ever see their work as exposed as Franco's. I cannot believe that Yale has accepted him as an English PhD student.
On a side note, a friend pointed out that Franco's name is the same size as the title on the front cover, and we all had a good laugh.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The description of this is savage oh my god. Way to get people not to buy this collection, amazon 👌Published 23 days ago by Rayne
James Franco, a well known actor, filmmaker, and upcoming author, writes his novel Palo Alto about teens who struggle with their journey to self discovery. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I did not like the first thing about this book. Am only giving it one star because I have to.Published 3 months ago by An Honest Person
This book was boring, low on creativity. Nothing special about it besides the fact that it was written by James Franco. Huge disappointmentPublished 4 months ago by JR0316
James Franco's Palo Alto is a brilliant book consisting of 11 short stories that revolve around the town of Palo Alto, California. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Melanie Exler