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Strongest of the Litter: (The Hollyridge Press Chapbook Series) Paperback – October 31, 2012
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About the Author
James Franco is an actor, director, screenwriter, and artist. His film appearances include Milk, Pineapple Express, the Spider-Man trilogy, Howl, and 127 Hours. Franco has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College, and his writing has appeared in Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, and McSweeney's. He is also the author of a collection of short stories, Palo Alto, published by Scribner.
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I didn't really know what to expect with this chapbook, but I had a feeling it may be more of the same -- in relation to Franco's other works, namely his collection of short stories "Palo Alto" and his most recent effort "A California Childhood". Many of the themes and subjects he uses in his poetry are indeed reflections of his previous works. However, in lyric form, the topics are re-imagined and given new life.
I liked the editing of the book, as the placement of the poems gave the book a nice rhythm and flow. Poems are placed to complement and enhance one another,and the juxtaposition provides new light for the poems. Initially I was unable to find much of a central theme, but then I realized I think his intent was more about using his many personae and his poetic voice to touch on seemingly disconnected topics (love, Moby Dick and Elizabeth Taylor) to bring the reader into his world and the connection that HE has to those things.
You can see the influence of several poets, some more blatant than others, namely William Carlos Williams, Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg.
Some of my favorite poems include: "Seventh Grade", "When I Hit Thirty-Four", "Fifth Grade", "Paterson History", "Fake", "Nocturnal" and "Telephone".
Overall, I think it's a great debut, and I am looking forward to his next book of poetry.