Wednesday, February 23, 2011


James Franco as Allen Ginsberg in Howl
By: Dawn Elardo
Actor James Franco will be co-hosting the 83rd Annual Academy Awards this Sunday (with Anne Hathaway).  Franco known for his ultra blown schedule of acting, directing, performing artist, painter/multi-media artist, model, soap opera star, Ph.D. candidate, and of course, Masters program hog, as well as Best Actor nominee for his role in 127 Hours, has also recently added published author to his exhausted resume: Palo Alto Stories -- James Franco is the title of his newly published book (Scribner, October, 2o10).  

James Franco's writing has earned him (not a prestigious nomination this time around), but much controversy:  Armed with an MFA from Columbia University, a degree in Fiction Writing from Brooklyn College, and still currently working on a degree in poetry from North Carolina's Warren Wilson College while also working towards a Ph.D. in English from Yale-- Franco is now becoming known as the actor who collects high-end degrees of the written word, and yet whose writing still somehow comes up short in the substance department.  With prose like, "The building is beige, but the shadows make it shadow-color." and "... he breathes his smoke out the black gaping gap." (granted these lines are quite possibly the worst of the worst from his book's excerpt via Esquire magazine), but they are quite telling indeed.  The majority of Franco's reviews (fans included) express nothing but disappointment and perhaps even disdain that poor quality writing has received much undeserving attention, let alone having been published at all. 

The writing (see HERE) does attempt to read like a Charles Bukowski or a Jack Kerouac.  And yet, it's unfortunate that Franco's writing even post much cramming, still comes short of a three dimensional perspective.  The Los Angeles Times' review had this to say about Palo Alto by James Franco, "It isn't Franco's fault, of course — just because he's a handsome young actor doesn't mean he can't write a book if he wants to." And the New York Times advises the (already published ) aspiring wordsmith, "As a writer, Franco needs to harness the skills he’s cultivated as an actor, mainly the ability to inhabit a consciousness independent of his own."  Apparently, what James Franco has drawn--immersed in higher education, aiming to master the art of telling a story--is mostly style, heavily lacking in density.  

Nevertheless, have a watch at the interview series (below) between James Franco and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cunningham (for The Hours) who also published his new book a few months ago (By Nightfall), and see how ironically, conversations of whether or not the craft of writing can be learned or taught surfaced.  Cunningham took James Franco as his student at Brooklyn College.  Evidently to get in: Franco emailed him, followed by "kissing his ass," (his words, saying things like "I'd like to study with the master..."), and with some added young star fame as the main ingredient and voilá--he's in the program. Cunningham is also a professor of Creative Writing at Yale University, where a certain latterly-retired-General-Hospital-star is also getting his Ph.D in English literature. 

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...