28 March 2010

James Franco: Serious Author

James Franco has published a story in this month's Esquire called "Just Before The Black." It is a story about a few friends in L.A. driving around, doing drugs and fighting with each other. At least in this corner, his appearance shall admit no discourse to his mediocrity.

An editor from People told me once that the magazine focused on "extraordinary people doing ordinary things, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things." I guess Franco's story would fall into that former category because I have read a fair amount of stories like that in fiction classes past, although mostly I was spared the stretches of homophobic conversation. (For this relief, much thanks.) The writer alters the familiar dictum to read "write what you know, but cooler," with the aggressive language to match, which really bothered Whitney Pastorek of Entertainment Weekly... and she has a point. The protagonist wants to get into a car accident! Edgy!

Maybe he just hasn't found his Gordon Lish. Franco is 31 years old and has taken MFA classes at Columbia, although (from what I could find) he never finished the degree. He was a student there when he got his book deal for the forthcoming collection of stories PALO ALTO (Scribner, October). Would I like to have a book deal and an Esquire clip under my belt by the time I'm 31? Absolutely. But in an age when most magazines don't publish any fiction at all, it's depressing to see one of the few that does making space for a "celebrity author," with quotes fully intended. Even among the field of authors originally famous for doing other things, Esquire could do better. I hear good things about that Nick Cave novel that came out last year. They have a lot of good writers in their stable; why waste the space on a guy whose fan base (of which I am not one, even before this started) won't buy the magazine for this story anyway?

And I couldn't end this post if I didn't also label him a tremendous douche for accepting the subhed "Author (and actor)." I mean, game over.

1 comment:

jo said...

Ouch! Your not pulling any punches. Way to go!

Now off to read the story.