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The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Fr The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines—before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, Look inside.”   Told in a dizzying array of styles—from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes—and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.


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The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Fr The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines—before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, Look inside.”   Told in a dizzying array of styles—from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes—and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.

30 review for Actors Anonymous

  1. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    This James Franco book was really very James Franco. It was the most James Franco sort of James Franco book I have ever read. You can tell that the author, James Franco, really loves James Franco. If you enjoyed my commentary about this James Franco book by James Franco you might like to read Actor's Anonymous by James Franco. James Franco. This James Franco book was really very James Franco. It was the most James Franco sort of James Franco book I have ever read. You can tell that the author, James Franco, really loves James Franco. If you enjoyed my commentary about this James Franco book by James Franco you might like to read Actor's Anonymous by James Franco. James Franco.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Actors Anonymous calls itself a novel, but really, it is a collection of short stories and ramblings, loosely based around the concept of Alcoholics Anonymous. In theory, this seems like it could be an interesting idea – a behind-the-scenes look written by a famous actor about the seedy underside of the acting industry. However, the problem here is that this book has no central cohesive plot. Franco isn't able to weave all of the stories together in a way that means anything. Each narrator of ea Actors Anonymous calls itself a novel, but really, it is a collection of short stories and ramblings, loosely based around the concept of Alcoholics Anonymous. In theory, this seems like it could be an interesting idea – a behind-the-scenes look written by a famous actor about the seedy underside of the acting industry. However, the problem here is that this book has no central cohesive plot. Franco isn't able to weave all of the stories together in a way that means anything. Each narrator of each story sounds exactly the same, despite being different characters and storylines (which is to say, like they're written as Franco). There's also an entire chapter of mediocre poetry devoted to River Phoenix. I know that I probably wasn't supposed to read this book as James Franco's life experiences, because technically it's a “novel.” But I, and surely a great number of people, can't help it. It's just too much Franco peeking out between the pages. For example, there's a story about a freshman girl in college (from her perspective) who loses her virginity to none other than James Franco. Really? Couldn't he have been a bit more creative? Had he decided to make this into a memoir or an exposé, this would make more sense, but as it is it just makes him look obscenely egotistical. And how can anyone take this book seriously when Franco pens such gems as “I used to care about how I looked. Now I don't care as much. Maybe it's because I'm so handsome.”? Is James Franco really self-aware, and this is just one big satire on himself, or is he truly that deluded about his own talent? A lot his “characters” are homophobic and misogynistic. Most, if not all, of his descriptions of women are simple objectifications, describing either how ugly and unattractive they are, or how fabulously hot they are (in much more lewd language), and rarely are they brought into the story without sex being involved. A character also casually rapes a woman. If there was such a thing as a Bechdel test for books, this book would fail spectacularly. Gay people are described with all of the classiness of a train wreck, with slurs and insults, mostly, despite the fact that his characters seem fascinated by queer sexuality in general. His characters have no depth, and it's painful to read. At one point, Franco writes, “My work is my life and my life is my work. And something like this – this book – is totally free of the pressures of being popular, because I don't make my living off of books, I make my living off of acting.” And thank God for that. Stick to acting, okay, Franco? Really. You've written a few books, you can call yourself a published author, now stop it. Don't make any more people suffer because they saw your name on the cover and thought you might be a good writer. Actors Anonymous is pretentious pseudo-intellectualism at its finest, and likely won't even appeal to his biggest fans. Stay far away.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barry Wightman

    Famous Actor James Franco has written something. The book’s cover describes it as “James Franco’s brilliant debut novel." Ah. A clue — it is a "novel.” Here’s how it begins: “I am the Actor. I am alive in 2013 and I was alive in 1913. … I am Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando and Jimmy Stewart ...” Uh oh. If you’re of a certain age, you remember Barry Manilow’s chart-topping ‘70s megahit “I Write the Songs,” written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. A charming, thoroughly treacly and sappy tune: “I’ve been Famous Actor James Franco has written something. The book’s cover describes it as “James Franco’s brilliant debut novel." Ah. A clue — it is a "novel.” Here’s how it begins: “I am the Actor. I am alive in 2013 and I was alive in 1913. … I am Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando and Jimmy Stewart ...” Uh oh. If you’re of a certain age, you remember Barry Manilow’s chart-topping ‘70s megahit “I Write the Songs,” written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. A charming, thoroughly treacly and sappy tune: “I’ve been alive forever and I wrote the very first song … I am music …” You know how it goes. (And it’s okay to like it — I’m a recovering musical snob.) Manilow’s record sold millions. It’s in your head now, isn’t it? Yes, there it is. Sorry. I am here to report that Famous Actor James Franco’s annoying novel, Actors Anonymous, is not in my head. In fact, I’m having trouble finding some good parts to share with you. Yet, through the magic of Hollywood celebrity and a few very nice famous writer dust-jacket blurbs (wow, Franco owes them big), the book will sell well — Amy Hempel gushes, “eloquent and suitably scorching.” Gary Shteyngart glows, “subversively funny and provocatively honest.” So there I was as I settled down with Actors Anonymous all set to dig it. Eloquent and subversive? I’m there — count me in. Then I read it. Eloquent? Just don’t see it. Subversive? If you mean playing fast and loose with convention, throwing out any fictional rule book, blurring lines between reality and a made-up world — sure. Yes. I couldn’t wait for it to end. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve got to admire Franco. He’s a talented, smart guy — actor, director, writer and, according to his publicist, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale. Go for it, James! Gotta love anybody going for that ultimate, terminal degree. And I’ve got to hand it to him for taking major risks with this thing. Some say Actors Anonymous is “experimental,” “a postmodern sleight of hand.” And hey, he’s got an epigraph by W. B. Yeats. Okay. The whole thing’s a mess. A very loosely threaded (dare I say, imperceptibly connected?) collection of 12 “Steps” and 12 “Traditions” of an entity known as Actors Anonymous (not so loosely based on Alcoholics Anonymous), the book uses many narrative voices, and they all sound alike. Call me crazy, but isn’t that James Franco, his voice, the famous actor, our author, behind that nearly transparent scrim of a fictional curtain? Is it fiction or what? Maybe it doesn’t matter. The “characters” are mostly young men struggling in LA, trying to make it, mostly slipping off the bottom rung of the star-maker machine’s ladder, each playing life fast and loose in all manner of awkward and brutal sexuality, controlled substances, you name it. Like out of a slickly sleazy, say, Steely Dan tune about dealers, hustlers and losers, minus any attempt to show the slightest dignity, humor or bits of beauty in the characters you might find in everyday low-rent life. For instance: There’s a guy who works the all-night drive-through at an L.A. McDonalds who has obviously joyless bathroom sex with one of the burger-flipping guys on the crew. Probably the only bit of the book with a whiff of narrative. The writing? William S. Burroughs or Henry Miller, it ain’t. There’s a terrible long poem about the long-dead actor River Phoenix: “Hello James, it’s River. Where do you think I’m calling from?” There’s a long scene of a Parisian seduction of The Angel by The Actor, complete with multiple multi-colored fonts, footnotes, “missing text.” Sounds promising, but with characters named Diarrhea, Cunty and little in the way of “story,” well, your mileage may vary. This section does contain the best line in the book: “The seduction of the Virgin was as smooth as a bullet through a birthday cake.” Charming, eh? There are long chapters of short, declarative paragraphs like this: “It’s funny when people say actors can’t write. Most of ‘em can’t, but look at Woody Allen. Look at W. C. Fields. “And what is good writing? Even the best writers resemble the best actors. They have a few good projects in them, and the others don’t seem to add up.” Huh. No style, no attempt at what Vladimir Nabokov called the enchantment of fiction. Midway through the book, in a footnote (I love footnotes in fiction, by the way), Franco writes: “In defense of myself, this is a piece of fiction. I know that my stories might sound like my autobiography, and I am not making much of an effort to hide when I call my character ‘The Actor,’ but isn’t fiction about writing what I know? … At least acting is something I know a little about.” Well, okay. So what’s The Actor’s game? Franco, in Actors Anonymous, does not appear to have or has chosen not to display his narrative gene. Franco is a student of and friends with author David Shields. Shields blurbed the book, calling it “an ambitious and seriously deconstructive fiction.” Shields’ recent books, Reality Hunger (2009) and How Literature Saved My Life (2013) are two literary grenades tossed at the fiction establishment. Shields writes that new fiction should be: “Collage — in which tiny paragraph-units work together to project a linear motion … collage teaches the reader to understand that the movements of the writer’s mind are intricately entangled with the work’s meaning … are the work’s meaning.” So, collage — a blurring of nonfiction and fiction but without any attempt at a seduction of the reader. Actors Anonymous — it’s one big, whiny, slapdash “dig me!” Franco, it is apparent, has tried valiantly to implement Shields’ make-it-new approach, tell something of his innermost story. Ambitious, yes. But a failure. I’d rather listen to a Barry Manilow record.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Callie *Fights Censorship*

    So this was weird. Going into this I had a pretty ambivalent attitude towards James Franco and after reading this book I kind of still do. I don't really know what to make of this very odd book or the man who wrote it. Is it the ramblings of a madman? Is it a monument to narcissism? Is it a desperate plea for attention? Is it a pretentious manifesto? Is it good? I honestly don't know if this was good because I'm still trying to understand the intent. There are moments when Franco is so unbelievably p So this was weird. Going into this I had a pretty ambivalent attitude towards James Franco and after reading this book I kind of still do. I don't really know what to make of this very odd book or the man who wrote it. Is it the ramblings of a madman? Is it a monument to narcissism? Is it a desperate plea for attention? Is it a pretentious manifesto? Is it good? I honestly don't know if this was good because I'm still trying to understand the intent. There are moments when Franco is so unbelievably pretentious telling the reader about 'real' art, but am I supposed to take this seriously, is he being ironic? Cause I mean lets be real here, this is the guy that made The Interview and Pineapple Express. There are several short stories where he writes about himself in the third person which is really strange. The most disturbing had to be the short story about a girl (who sounds just like all of the male characters) who hooks up with James Franco. That's right, Franco, in great detail, literally sleeps with himself. I'm pretty sure that is like the definition of narcissism. Setting aside all of the ostentatious references to films he starred in and using the title 'The Actor' as a stand in for his own name, there are stories that are complete fiction. These range from slightly interesting to WTF. All of Franco's characters are pretty much the same. They all talk the same and they even make all of the same references. If I had to hear about Marlon Brando or Jack Nicholson or James Dean one more time... To make his characters interesting Franco does pretty much one of two things. He either makes them drug addicts or sex fiends or both. Still Franco's writing isn't terrible and there was a story or two that felt well crafted and held my attention, but then there would be some strange essay or open letter filled with name dropping and addressing his public PR issues. It was all very distracting. It seems pretty clear that James Franco thinks very highly of James Franco. This I'm the smartest man in the room mentality can get trying but, to the benefit of the reader, it is tainted with a certain level of holy crap this guy might be insane. Overall, this was just a bit of a mess. I suggest reading this if you love train wrecks or if you, like the author, have deluded yourself into believing you are a misunderstood intellectual. Part of my 2015 Special 50 Book challenge- A Book with BAD reviews

  5. 4 out of 5

    kelly

    Holy shit, this was bad... Jesus, where do I start? This book calls itself a novel, but it isn't. Not even close. It is a collection of short stories, Franco's ramblings about the film industry, scripts, and bad poetry--loosely based around the concept of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This could have been a nice book (there are mixed media, untraditional novels that pull themselves together quite nicely--i.e., Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad) but Actors Anonymous is a mess. There Holy shit, this was bad... Jesus, where do I start? This book calls itself a novel, but it isn't. Not even close. It is a collection of short stories, Franco's ramblings about the film industry, scripts, and bad poetry--loosely based around the concept of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This could have been a nice book (there are mixed media, untraditional novels that pull themselves together quite nicely--i.e., Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad) but Actors Anonymous is a mess. There really is no central plot or characters, and Franco never really pulls it all together to create a meaningful, cohesive storyline. Each narrator here is some version of a complete loser and sounds exactly the same as the last. And I could have banged my head against my table when I saw a whole chapter of god-awful poetry dedicated to River Phoenix. Was he really serious? God, I pray he wasn't... And even after the last bomb that was "Palo Alto," I am displeased to announce that Mr. Franco has still NOT figured out how to write. In Actors Anonymous, we get to read such gems as: "The seduction of the Virgin was as smooth as a bullet through birthday cake." "He was part Swedish or something. He made me think of candy canes stuck in people's asses, and gray rooms where people said nothing but inanities." Which brings me to another problem with this book: Franco's characters all throughout this book are mostly male. They are shallow, sex crazed, homophobic, and women seem to only enter the narrative when there is some kind of casual sex with a male character. The business-as-usual way that he describes how one of his main characters rapes a woman is truly disturbing. I could see his using such characters to, let's say, make a point about how such behavior is unacceptable, but this never happens in Actors Anonymous. Matter of fact, nothing significant ever happens in Actors Anonymous. There is no character development, no emotion, no depth, and it sucks to read. I checked this out (along with its equally shitty counterpart, "Palo Alto") at my local library, so, other than several hours of my life, I lost nothing here. I would implore other readers to stay as far, far away from this book as possible.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Field

    I finished this novel last night and figured I'd better post a review while it's still fresh in my mind. And that's because in many ways it reminds me of a graduate course I took senior year in college called Communications and Literature. I was supposed to take this lame senior seminar as a requirement, but with a little foot work and a really cool advisor in the fine arts department who had some national fame at the time (and signed anything I asked him to sign because he knew how hard I worke I finished this novel last night and figured I'd better post a review while it's still fresh in my mind. And that's because in many ways it reminds me of a graduate course I took senior year in college called Communications and Literature. I was supposed to take this lame senior seminar as a requirement, but with a little foot work and a really cool advisor in the fine arts department who had some national fame at the time (and signed anything I asked him to sign because he knew how hard I worked in his sculpture classes) I figured out a way to bypass the senior seminar and take a graduate course that focused on literature, interpretation, and communications. The course was so intense the professor admitted on the first day he didn't get it either, especially the semiotics and semantics. And the reason I'm even mentioning this now is because while I was reading Actors Anonymous I felt as if I'd been transported back to that graduate course all over again. Actors Anonymous, like the graduate course, is the kind of book that needs to be absorbed a certain way, and parsed with an articulate eye. So far, in reading most of the mainstream so-called professional reviews I haven't seen anyone do that with Actors Anonymous. I'm not talking about Amazon or GR reviews now. I highly respect all customer/GR reviews and everyone has an opinion I respect. I'm only talking about people who get paid to write reviews for mainstream publications, and who should know better. Unfortunately, I guess they didn't take any grad courses in communications and literature. One aspect of communications and literature I learned about in the grad course I mentioned above is that we tend to interpret literature differently at various times in our lives. In other words, I might feel completely different about Actors Anonymous ten years from now if I reread it again in the future. If you don't believe me, revisit a novel you read ten years ago and see if you feel the same way about it. As our lives and circumstances change through the years, we often tend to interpret the books we read in different ways. For me, at this point in my life, I think I appreciated Actors Anonymous as much as I did because as a career fiction writer I understood what was written on the page, and also what was written between the lines of the pages. I probably wouldn't have felt this way ten years ago. Due to the fact that Actors Anonymous is so abstract at times I can't get into a full plot description because the novel doesn't really follow the normal course of novel writing. I have no doubt it's fiction for the most part. And yet it's not an anthology, and I should know because I've been in far more anthologies than I can even count at this point. What I thought it did was follow a theme that revolves around acting, the deep need to act almost to the point of addiction, and all the traps that accompany fame and fortune if an actor is successful. And it's done in a current (and simple) way that I think is about as real as any novel I've ever read before. If there were a genre labeled "Reality Fiction," this would be a perfect fit. There's no proverbial sugar-coating deal going on here, and in the same respect it wasn't too over the top in a way I might have questioned. The book does bounce at times from chapter to chapter, which I thought added more abstract appeal. There's a chapter with texts discussing a realtor who boasts about things like her glorious adventures to her deep desire for what I thought was supposed to be interpreted as affection. I could be wrong about that, but it was an interesting chapter anyway. And it's really the way a reader interprets the chapter that matters most. And then there are chapters like McDonalds I and McDonalds II where an unusual guy who seems to drift with the breeze tries to pull his life together by working in fast food and making a few extra bucks on the side by performing sexual favors for some poor unfortunate who's not going to get laid any other way. In fact, throughout the novel I found many well written sex scenes. But they aren't sex scenes that are designed to stimulate the reader in a sexual way. Most are raw, they devolve into the darker side of life most struggling artists experience at one point or another, and they often left me wanting to shower (or rinse my mouth with peroxide). However, the fact that they had this brand of clarity only made the novel more intense for me and the overall reading experience. If I had begun a book like this and found the writing overdone or poorly executed I probably wouldn't have finished. Thankfully, none of the characters "barked," in the dialogue tags and no one's "feet climbed up the stairs." However, the word economy, the exact way each sentence flows into another, and the structure of the narrative kept me turning each page into the early hours of the several mornings. I would love to have seen the original manuscript without revises just to compare it with the final book. It's been so well edited and made so tight I couldn't find one single flaw with the writing. Even the sex scenes worked, and scenes like this in other novels I've read tend to be over-written many times. But not once during a single sex scene did I read a sentence like, "He brought her off." This might sound like a minor detail to many people. But if you read a lot and you know the difference, it's a huge thing for others. Whether or not this novel was written to be sarcastic at times could be anyone's guess. I did detect a hint of snark and WTF-ery in an amusing way (Perez Hilton: smile), but it's not the first time I've seen that in fiction of this nature and I'm sure it won't be the last. The voice in a general sense kept me reading, even during a few of the bumpy sections where I had to go back and figure out what had happened. For me, that was fun. I have eclectic taste and I like reading abstract works that challenge the norm every once in a while just as much as I sometimes like reading Debbie Macomber. I've already recommended Actors Anonymous to people whom I think will like it as much as I did (or get something out of it), and I've cautioned a few who I know would expect something else. As a writer, the one biggest fear I've always had was getting nothing but three star mediocre reviews. Because the books that get the most balanced reviews between one star and five always seem to be the most challenging to the reader. They touched a nerve, they made someone think, and whether they pissed someone off or thrilled someone else, the extreme is always what matters most in the end in fiction. My suggestion to anyone vetting this book for purchase would be to check out all the reviews and read the samples. My warning would be to beware of all the so-called professional mainstream reviews that talk more about the author and the author's fame than the actual contents of the book. I purchased the book in digital format on Amazon for 5.99. Side note: I think you can retrieve your iTunes if your drive crashes. (It's in the book.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    I like and respect James Franco and really wanted to like this book. But in the end I had to agree with Franco's blunt, self-critical analysis: "James, I am going to be as frank as I can be: Stop writing. You don't have the facility for it. You have the love, but not the skill. As I have said innumerable times, you throw in a lot of flash, to hide a lack of substance. I think this comes from your deep fear that readers won't accept you as an actor and a writer." Authors usually aren't this self-a I like and respect James Franco and really wanted to like this book. But in the end I had to agree with Franco's blunt, self-critical analysis: "James, I am going to be as frank as I can be: Stop writing. You don't have the facility for it. You have the love, but not the skill. As I have said innumerable times, you throw in a lot of flash, to hide a lack of substance. I think this comes from your deep fear that readers won't accept you as an actor and a writer." Authors usually aren't this self-aware or self-deprecating. But in the end, James chose to disregard his own advice and publish the novel - which isn't a novel really, but a series of disconnected, pretentious ramblings about the craft of acting that read like they were dictated by Entourage's Vincent Chase after a long night of cocaine and supermodel sex.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. From the beginning I tried to forget that James Franco is an actor and judge the book just on the writing, but that wasn't possible. Franco didn't let me forget that it was written by "The Actor" as he kept popping up in first and third person. The book read like a short story collection. Some of it was really good. Some of it was pretty bad. But, overall I enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed recent books by Chuck Palahniuk. It's worth a read if you aren' I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. From the beginning I tried to forget that James Franco is an actor and judge the book just on the writing, but that wasn't possible. Franco didn't let me forget that it was written by "The Actor" as he kept popping up in first and third person. The book read like a short story collection. Some of it was really good. Some of it was pretty bad. But, overall I enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed recent books by Chuck Palahniuk. It's worth a read if you aren't easily offended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    For one thing, I doubt very highly that this book was copyedited (I doubt it was edited at all—not by Franco himself nor by anyone else. None of the writing surpasses the quality or feel of first-draft material.) It’s a bad sign when a novel’s first sentence exhibits bad grammar (“We of Actors Anonymous are more than fifty men and women who…”), and we’re treated to at least one more misstep before graduating to page two. Aside from bad grammar, though, which is borderline rampant, strange format For one thing, I doubt very highly that this book was copyedited (I doubt it was edited at all—not by Franco himself nor by anyone else. None of the writing surpasses the quality or feel of first-draft material.) It’s a bad sign when a novel’s first sentence exhibits bad grammar (“We of Actors Anonymous are more than fifty men and women who…”), and we’re treated to at least one more misstep before graduating to page two. Aside from bad grammar, though, which is borderline rampant, strange formatting issues surface; Franco ends a chapter by quoting from Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and several of the apostrophes are set as straight quotes (or tick marks), which I can take only as a sign that the author copied the dialogue from the Internet and pasted it into his manuscript. Hardly the novel’s biggest faux pas, but nonetheless embarrassing. Though Actors is billed as a novel, it’s really just a disorganized scrapbook. E-mail conversations and text messages; multiple collections of vapid one-liners masquerading as philosophical/practical advice for would-be actors; an OMG-is-it-real-or-is-it-fake letter to Franco’s NYU classmates; a few horrendous poems; disorderly, multicolored, Danielewskiesque collections of typefaces (coming off as more vapid and shallow than Mark Danielewski may be Franco’s one accomplishment here); and an unfortunate rant against “Sass” (Flaunt) magazine give the novel the feel of a motley collection of files recovered from a crashed hard drive. Franco has created an AA-esque twelve-step program (from which the novel takes its name) meant to tie everything together, but the contents of the chapters have nothing to do with the twelve Steps or Traditions that give them their titles. In any case, by the time you get to a section of actual narrative, you’re so relieved that you almost believe that the writing maybe actually kind of isn’t really all that bad. Actually, though, it is. A short introduction precedes the aforementioned Sass/Flaunt chapter, wherein Franco invites his readers with the eloquence of a third grader to “Make what sense of it that you can.” Elsewhere, the author muses, “And I think you could say that I probably wouldn’t have been involved in everything bad that happened after if I hadn’t been in [that film].” There’s absolutely no attention paid to syntax or to structure, or to the fact that it takes two or three reads to parse this sentence, which in any case holds no real meaning, reveals nothing, and doesn’t serve the story. Franco’s dialogue is downright laughable: “Give me his fucking number, or . . . I am going to have your new place shut down for serving minors and cocaine use and for being a fucking whorehouse!” “Jesus, Marc. What is your problem? I’ve never heard you like this, except when you were on coke.” Franco’s attempt to create a heterogeneous or polyphonic novel is undermined by his patent inability to instill in any of his characters a unique voice. Every man, woman, and teen exhibits the same bored, alienated, pseudo–Holden Caulfield bloviation that’s been done countless times before and to far greater effect (which is to say to any effect at all). We’ve all read Bret Easton Ellis’s sordid tales of disaffected youth in LA, we’ve all read Play it as it Lays, we’ve all read The Catcher in the Rye. Compounding the problem is the fact that Actors’s characters fail to exhibit any shred of intelligence or intellect, as does the writing itself; if we didn’t all know who James Franco was, we might think that this novel was written by a seventh grader with a decent thesaurus app. Indeed, the book’s themes and concerns rarely transcend those of a junior-high classroom: Who’s hot, who’s not, who’s cool, who’s lame, who hates who, who’s a bitch, who wants to fart or to shit in whose face. (This is excepting, of course, the rape, the men’s-stall blow jobs, and the sex and the sex and the sex.) An example of Franco’s ineptitude with voice: In one story, a young man recalls his nights spent staring at the cobwebs in the corner of his room where “the ceiling slanted up to a peak and made a crotch” (more junior-high prurience). “As I slept, [the spiders] probably crawled all over me and in my mouth, but I didn’t kill ‘em. More would just come.” (Ignore the fact that this assertion is completely nonsensical, that the character’s claim to have consciously refrained from killing the spiders (while sleeping) after only assuming that they “probably” crawled in his mouth is ridiculous.) The character’s anomalous and intrusive colloquial “‘em” never reappears in his or any other section of the novel—it’s just a flight of first-draft Franco fancy. As in Franco’s story collection, Palo Alto, Actors’s characters are never described beyond whether they’re hot, or pretty, or ugly, or sort of pretty, or not very pretty, or maybe just okay looking. Occasionally we learn that a character looks like James Dean or Corey Feldman. It’s all image, and it’s all sex. One female character is “very comfortable showing [her] tits,” since they’re “perfect tits,” but is “shy about [her] pussy,” because she’s “afraid it smells.” (All her words.) Franco informs us later, in one of the novel’s five collections of insipid one-liners, that “Some people smell when you bend them over.” Thanks, James. In the real world, two years before the publication of Actors Anonymous, James Franco’s bare ass appeared on the cover of Flaunt magazine. In the chapter titled “The Sass Account,” Franco the author gives us an “unpublished article,” ostensibly written by an editor at “Sass” Magazine (Flaunt’s surrogate) about how difficult it was to work with Franco the celebrity. There are footnotes, too, which are meant to have been written by Franco (deemed, in blue, “The Actor”). At a certain point in the eleven pages this disaster comprises, the actual letter ends. “It was torn. It’s quite possible that The Actor ripped it in anger, if he is in fact the annotator,” some third-party italics explain. Yet the footnotes, somehow, remain. And so we’re treated to another seven pages of vapid, petulant, seventh-grade vitriolic “motherfucker”s and “shithead”s and “Duh”s and “fucking retarded”s, not to mention James Franco’s collegiate resume with the proper nouns omitted. It is without doubt the book’s low point, not only because of the language (which is juvenile beyond the vulgarity), and not only because the premise is both fatuous and gratuitous (Franco seems to think that his readers will be interested above all else in which sections of his novel are fictional and which are real-life snippets from his real life; the problem is, fiction or nonfiction, not a page of the novel is interesting), but mostly because Franco, whether it’s Franco the author, Franco the character, or Franco the celebrity, comes off as hateful to the point of absolute tedium. This is a numbingly stupid book that concerns itself only with vacuous, juvenile, and well-trod banality. “Every actor says he wants to work with Scorsese,” Franco claims in another one-liner. “But why are we all sitting around waiting for Scorsese? Why not be your own Scorsese? And even if you can’t make movies like him, the power of creation is enough. If you work on your own projects, the projects you believe in, then you have the power of making a Scorsese film.” What Franco seems eternally ignorant of is that, obviously, not everyone can be his own Scorsese. It takes more to create art than just believing in one’s self—yes, it takes effort, but it also takes talent. Simply sitting down and typing (or copy/pasting) 300 pages does not produce a novel. The obvious temptation is to call Actors Anonymous a tale told by an idiot, though I’m reluctant to do so only because it’s not a tale at all—it’s just a mess.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenelle

    I feel dumber for having read this book. Seriously.

  11. 5 out of 5

    J. Lynn

    No. Just no.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I tried to avoid reading reviews before reading this book because I wanted to go into it with a blank slate, but I couldn’t help reading all the GoodRead reviews. Even after reading bad reviews I decided to give him a chance. There’s no doubt Franco has a talent writing but, like quite a few writers, there are some things he needs to work on. Most of the characters were extremely unlikable and have something to do with addiction. I felt a lot of the stories were redundant and this is definitely n I tried to avoid reading reviews before reading this book because I wanted to go into it with a blank slate, but I couldn’t help reading all the GoodRead reviews. Even after reading bad reviews I decided to give him a chance. There’s no doubt Franco has a talent writing but, like quite a few writers, there are some things he needs to work on. Most of the characters were extremely unlikable and have something to do with addiction. I felt a lot of the stories were redundant and this is definitely not a novel, but a collection of short stories. Near the end you realize the stories weave into each other through characters, plot, and key events. So they’re not completely random, like some reviews claim. I liked his writing (he’s not as bad at Meyers but is no Rowling), everything flowed nicely and seemed to go somewhere (most of the time). It’s hard to put a finger on what I liked about it. I guess an “inside look” into what most perceive as a glamourous world is what makes this book so intriguing. It is a fictional novel, though references of real actors/films/events are inserted throughout the book. It makes me feel like most is based on fact while staying true to the “Anonymous” part of the story. And I’m assuming the “actors” gave their stories to Franco since he is referenced quite a few time making the reader quite confused. It was a fun read. I won’t reread it but it was definitely entertaining. Just like James Franco and lots of actors, there is something about the book which makes it likeable…even if you don’t know what it is.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eduard

    Actors Anonymous: More Nonfiction than fiction. Should be called James Franco streams of consciousness rants. I couldn’t wait to complete this “book” and remove it from my Nook. I suppose if you are a superfan of Franco then this book is worth reading. More like a primer for wannabe actors for insight into the self-absorbed acting mentality and psychology. Franco is egotistical and brags about all the women he bedded due to his fame (90% of "book"). Every other sentence says how “handsome” the “ Actors Anonymous: More Nonfiction than fiction. Should be called James Franco streams of consciousness rants. I couldn’t wait to complete this “book” and remove it from my Nook. I suppose if you are a superfan of Franco then this book is worth reading. More like a primer for wannabe actors for insight into the self-absorbed acting mentality and psychology. Franco is egotistical and brags about all the women he bedded due to his fame (90% of "book"). Every other sentence says how “handsome” the “actor” i.e. Franco is (if he does say so himself). Beyond arrogant and stupid autobiographical nonsense. This is hardly a book. Certainly NOT a book of short stories. There were maybe 2 notable short stories here. The remainder of the book is Franco yapping about how great (he thinks) he is and his self absorption. An insight for the stupid acting mentality I would say than a book or stories with plots. Ok to see what type of people actors are (self loathing mentally unstable insecure). Just quips and thoughts of Franco. This isn’t a book. Book should be called “James Franco: my ego and thoughts on acting”. This is what the book is (which is fine) but don’t expect more. Somewhat insightful into the actors egotistical mentality. Thank God I got the ebook for free so when I deleted it I felt relief. I’m embarrassed to say I read this POS. I shouldn't have expected more from an actor.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This book is unlike anything that I've read before. It's quite original, and for that, I give props to Franco. Although loosely based on Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps to recovery, this book is presented in a compilation of the typical book format, as well as essays, poems, short stories, footnotes, etc. I particularly like the footnotes section where the writing is in the present tense and talks of what is happening, while the footnotes take place after the death of The Actor, and are that perso This book is unlike anything that I've read before. It's quite original, and for that, I give props to Franco. Although loosely based on Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps to recovery, this book is presented in a compilation of the typical book format, as well as essays, poems, short stories, footnotes, etc. I particularly like the footnotes section where the writing is in the present tense and talks of what is happening, while the footnotes take place after the death of The Actor, and are that person's view of the events. Furthermore, Franco manages to transition between, and intermingle crude, profane language and an eloquent narrative. Although I do not think this book has a lot of plot, it is informative, interesting, and extremely unique. Some may not like his style of writing but I personally think it is quite insightful and nice. This book has received a lot of bad reviews, most people are saying that had he not been famous, it would not have been published. I completely disagree. Had he not been famous I probably would not have read it, but I sure am glad I did. Furthermore, you may be more inclined to read this if you have a fascination with movies, theatre, and TV, as I do.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Knoke

    It is hard to imagine this book ever being published if the author wasn't a famous actor. That also appears to be the focus and theme of this "tome-ette", the fact that the author is a famous actor. It cannot in all accuracy be referred to as a novel. It is more a series of loosely constructed vignettes, much like one might encounter in a cheesy acting class. Incidentally and unsurprisingly, there is a fair amount of cheesy acting class vignettes in this novelette. Let's call it a novelette, wri It is hard to imagine this book ever being published if the author wasn't a famous actor. That also appears to be the focus and theme of this "tome-ette", the fact that the author is a famous actor. It cannot in all accuracy be referred to as a novel. It is more a series of loosely constructed vignettes, much like one might encounter in a cheesy acting class. Incidentally and unsurprisingly, there is a fair amount of cheesy acting class vignettes in this novelette. Let's call it a novelette, written by an authorette and we might be on to something. The novelette is sleazy and full of depressingly sophomoric sex scenes. The authorette is not without glimmers of talent though despite these formidable limitations. I have no idea if he could actually write a novel, but I know for certain this is not one. Why bother? Unless of course, your onboard an airplane and your only other choice is a cheesy movie or People magazine. That's my excuse. Plus sometimes I just like to read crappy stuff. You may have higher literary aspirations than I do. Good for you.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Julia Tulloh Harper

    DNF. Tbh I'm not really even sure why I picked this one up. It was like reading an attempt at a creative writing assessment by a first year uni student who just discovered critical theory and now thinks they understand the universe. Except it was written by a famous rich artist (and *PhD* student) in his late 30s who should know better. The self-congratulation dripping from this text was pretty frustrating - I'm not even sure if he was trying to be satirical/ironic half the time or if he just was DNF. Tbh I'm not really even sure why I picked this one up. It was like reading an attempt at a creative writing assessment by a first year uni student who just discovered critical theory and now thinks they understand the universe. Except it was written by a famous rich artist (and *PhD* student) in his late 30s who should know better. The self-congratulation dripping from this text was pretty frustrating - I'm not even sure if he was trying to be satirical/ironic half the time or if he just wasn't self-aware at all. Don't read this, anyone. Instead watch the old Spiderman films and remember Franco in the golden years of his youth.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Okay, so I’m giving this book two stars, and although I have pretty much given up on writing extended reviews, I will, for this one, to explain this star rating to anyone who happens to stumble upon this account. I’m going to admit that I read this book for the lols. My friend loaned it to me, with the River Phoenix poems as the hook. The four poems, three from the perspective of Franco and one from the perspective of Phoenix (written by Franco, obviously), were not good, although I wasn’t expect Okay, so I’m giving this book two stars, and although I have pretty much given up on writing extended reviews, I will, for this one, to explain this star rating to anyone who happens to stumble upon this account. I’m going to admit that I read this book for the lols. My friend loaned it to me, with the River Phoenix poems as the hook. The four poems, three from the perspective of Franco and one from the perspective of Phoenix (written by Franco, obviously), were not good, although I wasn’t expecting them to be. I mean, I was reading the book specifically because I thought they would be terrible. But in comparison to the rest of the book (which was, for the most part, technically well done), the poems lacked any sort of technical poetic skill. Also, there is that element of self-indulgence. Franco writes to his idol, Phoenix, about how great he is, and Phoenix responds with how pure he is and how inconsequential Franco is in comparison, which is just a reflection on Franco, and has nothing at all to do with putting himself in the mindset of Phoenix. There are other noteworthy lols. Franco writes from the perspective of a girl who loses her virginity to him, which leads her to feel deeply connected to him, despite her recognising that “he took a lot of girls’ virginities”. Then the first of what I would call “footnote stories”, begins with a guy looking at a picture of a butt of “the Actor”, trying to decide whether the butt is straight or gay, and eventually deciding that the butt wants to fart in his face. There is actually quite a bit of butt/fart/shit stories throughout the book, but the butt photo really is Franco’s magnum opus of butt stories. These were the things I read the book for. They were for the frivolous joy attained by reading the vainglorious pseudo avant-garde writings of a self-obsessed actor, who feels today’s acting scene is like the beat generation. Based on these stories alone, I would have given the book five stars, because it fulfilled its purpose for me. I’m also going to state again that the writing was much better than I was expecting, which only added to the joy of reading about a butt picture trying to fart in someone’s face. And if I had been pleasantly surprised by a greatly moving story about the lives of young actors in Hollywood, it would have just been gravy. Now to explain the lowly, two star score: I don’t usually deduct merit points from a book just because it’s told from a mostly male perspective. People write what they know, and I can understand that a writer may not feel confident, or like they would be able to do the character justice, if they wrote from the perspective of a different sex. That being said, the male characters in the book are all just appalling creatures. Their masculinity is demonstrated in violence, and reducing female characters’ worth to their level of attractiveness and value as a sex object. It’s pretty much my nightmare of what some guys actually may actually think or feel about women. This is best demonstrated by the underlying rape storyline of the Angel/Casey*. The first mention of the rape is in the fifth section, when a college guy, Ben, is making out with an unnamed girl. When she passes out, he just decides to have sex with her. Later in the section, he tells an acting teacher about it in an attempt to show he’s had enough life experience to get in the class. In the fifteenth section, the rape is brought up again, the victim given the pseudonym of “the Angel”, who is in a relationship with “the Actor”. After finding out, two years later, the Angel was raped, the Actor struggles with his masculinity. He sends someone to go attack Ben, but this is obviously not enough, and he decides in order to restore his feelings of sexual potency, he needs to sleep with every girl, including the Angel’s sister, “the Virgin”. There is also a reader in the story, who sums up the situation as follows: “Of course when we read about rape, it seems cliché and overdone, but does that mean that it isn’t fresh and painful for those involved? Ever since Daphne, Leda, and Persephone, women have been raped in literature. Sure, we’re sick of it. But how does a young man get over it? A young artist? What can he do?” While there’s no doubt that, in reality, rape can affect not only the victim, but the people connected to the victim, the interpretation that the women’s rape is too cliché, while the male artist’s reaction to it is something worth empathy and understanding, is highly offensive. It gets worse later, in the nineteenth section, when one of the characters, Thomas, explains the relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Casey*: “She’s fucked up. She’s a fucking head case. She got raped and everything, so now she is all fucked up, so fuck her.” Perhaps, one could argue that Franco is making an intentional statement. Yes, the characters treat women as sex objects and blame rape victims, which demonstrates the vacuous, misogynistic elements of our culture. But is that an intentional element? Is the book attempting to point out societal moral flaws? If it was, it was not demonstrated clear enough. I can imagine the young, aspiringly vain reading this book and relating its themes to their actual thought processes, without it actually challenging them. And that scares me. So, to sum, I got exactly what I wanted from the book. But I also got something much worse. *I assume that Casey is the Angel, and Thomas is the actor, though it possibly may not be, however I am connecting them together as whether or not they are connected, it still demonstrates my point.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Wainwright

    So sharp and incisive in places it's maddening how sloppy and slapdash it is throughout. Here's an insider who gives a shit and can write. Go ahead: hate on the dude. He can write. Apparently, like latter-day Stephen King (who can, whether you like his quirky, colloquial style or not, also write), no one is willing to edit him. At least, that's my best guess as to the highly uneven but ultimately disappointing collection of thoughts/stories/rants contained herein. Me? I love stories about people So sharp and incisive in places it's maddening how sloppy and slapdash it is throughout. Here's an insider who gives a shit and can write. Go ahead: hate on the dude. He can write. Apparently, like latter-day Stephen King (who can, whether you like his quirky, colloquial style or not, also write), no one is willing to edit him. At least, that's my best guess as to the highly uneven but ultimately disappointing collection of thoughts/stories/rants contained herein. Me? I love stories about people who use (drugs, alcohol, fame, work) to fill the hole inside. And here's someone who has dabbled heavily enough in all of these areas *and* recovered sufficiently from the dabbling *and* has an artistic, searcher's spirit to make a go at sharing how devastatingly ineffective these things are at fixing anything AND CAN WRITE, yet for whatever reason has decided that shipping a first draft is good enough. Dude is busy. I get it. He's squeezing out books between things. Unfortunately, it looks like the things in question are his perfectly sculpted ass cheeks. What infuriates me above all—in myself, in society, in exes (talk about being able to write a book!)—is wasted potential. Here's hoping he gets a chance to meet his before burning out on multiple activities.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Part of me wants to say 5 stars, part of me wants to say 1 star. Definitely artsy and experimental, and not very cohesive.

  20. 5 out of 5

    David

    Noodling around in the library the other day, I saw this book by James Franco that I did not remember hearing about, so I picked up: On the cover it said it was a novel, and I wondered why I did not know he'd written a novel. The short stories had gotten so much publicity, I must have been under a rock to miss the kind of fuss a novel would have caused. (NOTE: If this is a novel, then I'm Jane Austen!) When I saw that it claimed to be the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Actors Anonymous, that seem Noodling around in the library the other day, I saw this book by James Franco that I did not remember hearing about, so I picked up: On the cover it said it was a novel, and I wondered why I did not know he'd written a novel. The short stories had gotten so much publicity, I must have been under a rock to miss the kind of fuss a novel would have caused. (NOTE: If this is a novel, then I'm Jane Austen!) When I saw that it claimed to be the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Actors Anonymous, that seemed to promise amusement, so I decided to check it out. At first, it seemed mildly amusing, but eventually one of the (hopefully) fictional sections reported the narrator committing date rape, and I was suddenly not amused at all. Foolishly, I kept reading. It only got worse, really, and so I kind of skipped ahead to see if there was anything redeeming at the end, but alas, no. I guess it was called a novel so that he could string together a few random bits of underdeveloped fiction, and the 12-step thing makes a nice cover for throwing in a completely random mish-mash of what may be autobiographical observations, with the safety of "a novel" to give deniability to the author, should he wish to avail himself of that out. Anyway, I really wanted to like this, and I am sorry the author made that impossible, but I suspect that being offensive was the whole point, and he simply succeeded better than I would have wished him to. Sigh. Instead of one star, I really should be giving this a grade of minus-one star. Ugh.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Po Po

    Plenty of name-dropping, too many narratives, and not enough direction. Tried to bring things together, but failed miserably. There were some funny parts. All of the self-referential megalomaniacal stuff that others found distasteful, I really enjoyed. I also liked the nuggets of truth that came by surprise every now and again: "We all have masks. Often, I like to write about young people, because it's a time when they are still sculpting their masks. When we get older, after years of use, the mask Plenty of name-dropping, too many narratives, and not enough direction. Tried to bring things together, but failed miserably. There were some funny parts. All of the self-referential megalomaniacal stuff that others found distasteful, I really enjoyed. I also liked the nuggets of truth that came by surprise every now and again: "We all have masks. Often, I like to write about young people, because it's a time when they are still sculpting their masks. When we get older, after years of use, the masks meld with our faces. Yes, there are little tweaks here and there, but the mask is reinforced by response. We wear the mask, and people respond to the mask and the mask becomes us, the outside response from others nails it down tight." [ p.250] Good idea to use the 12 steps + 12 traditions of AA, but I found the follow-through sadly lacking. The stories didn't fit with the modified actor steps/traditions. There was just too much going on. For instance, Tradition 1 [Film is Life] and Tradition 10 [From the Foreword to the Second Edition] were chapters that made me think of fruitcake. Finally, another food analogy: Actors Anonymous = old granny's casserole in yer face. Throw all the leftovers in, bake at 350, and act offended when the kids and grandkids claim they are full and have already eaten.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kandace

    Franco was extremely ambitious in Actors Anonymous. The style ranged from almost-stream-of-conscience snippets to emails, text messages to very well crafted prose. The overall feel of the style was in the vein of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. However, Franco was unable to capitalize on the form as Egan did, primarily because there is no story progression. In fact there is very little story at all. To call Actors Anonymous a novel is a gross exaggeration. Instead of a unifying plot Franco was extremely ambitious in Actors Anonymous. The style ranged from almost-stream-of-conscience snippets to emails, text messages to very well crafted prose. The overall feel of the style was in the vein of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. However, Franco was unable to capitalize on the form as Egan did, primarily because there is no story progression. In fact there is very little story at all. To call Actors Anonymous a novel is a gross exaggeration. Instead of a unifying plot, it feels as if this is a collection of loosely connected stories in various forms. A lot of people give James Franco grief because, let's face it, his myriad ventures do seem quite laughable. Personally, I'm a fan (have you *seen* Pineapple Express? Hilarious!), but Franco fell short here. I applaud his creativity and his fearless play in style and form, but this debut "novel" what I would want to represent my long form writing. Overall Rating: 2.5 stars. See more reviews by The Readist at www.thereadist.com.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tito Hammer

    Two or three interesting, well-written chapters and then a plunge head-long into an abyss of absurd footnotes and chaotic non-literature. If you really MUST read this book, just stop around Chapter 3. In all seriousness, without a doubt, this is the worst book I've ever read. Chop off the last 4-fifths of this "novel" and you have, perhaps, a compelling rough draft for the beginnings of a novella (and by "you", I mean you are the author and you have yet to graduate high school). I'm honestly curi Two or three interesting, well-written chapters and then a plunge head-long into an abyss of absurd footnotes and chaotic non-literature. If you really MUST read this book, just stop around Chapter 3. In all seriousness, without a doubt, this is the worst book I've ever read. Chop off the last 4-fifths of this "novel" and you have, perhaps, a compelling rough draft for the beginnings of a novella (and by "you", I mean you are the author and you have yet to graduate high school). I'm honestly curious how any firm would admit to allowing this crap to be published. Thank God I borrowed this from the library and did not pay one red cent for it!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Wiebke (1book1review)

    This is the first of Franco's books I read and I like the idea and the format. Especially the chapters that feel like total word vomit where he's just saying what's on his mind stream of consciousness style. I also liked the idea of experimenting with different narrations and characters and not following a plot from beginning to end. Nevertheless it feels a bit long and repetitive at some point and also constructed, especially in the chapters about The Actor. I'm curious to read more of his books This is the first of Franco's books I read and I like the idea and the format. Especially the chapters that feel like total word vomit where he's just saying what's on his mind stream of consciousness style. I also liked the idea of experimenting with different narrations and characters and not following a plot from beginning to end. Nevertheless it feels a bit long and repetitive at some point and also constructed, especially in the chapters about The Actor. I'm curious to read more of his books, and see where his writing goes. I am more eloquent and elaborate in my video review of this book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tya11J...

  25. 4 out of 5

    A. R.

    About halfway through this book went from being "pretty good for being written by James Franco" to just plain "pretty good". I think the style and concept were fine, but the substance is a little weak--it's a little too self-conscious and Franco is too present in the text. Maybe he's playing with the public's views of him, but I'd really like to see what he could do if he got out of his own way. Maybe some of the cute stuff would get cut and you could focus just on the writing, which is actually About halfway through this book went from being "pretty good for being written by James Franco" to just plain "pretty good". I think the style and concept were fine, but the substance is a little weak--it's a little too self-conscious and Franco is too present in the text. Maybe he's playing with the public's views of him, but I'd really like to see what he could do if he got out of his own way. Maybe some of the cute stuff would get cut and you could focus just on the writing, which is actually pretty damn good. I have not read Palo Alto, but I will give that a shot now.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    This stream of consciousness-but-with-indents kind of book describes what I'm assuming are autobiographical experiences in Hollywood and the film business in general, starting with acting class (and love) and progressing to job experiences in the business. One chapter is written by a groupie of Franco's who he's slept with, describing their intimate encounters, as well as her feelings. Thrown in are a couple of opinions about actors, directors, and the movie business as a whole, with topics rapi This stream of consciousness-but-with-indents kind of book describes what I'm assuming are autobiographical experiences in Hollywood and the film business in general, starting with acting class (and love) and progressing to job experiences in the business. One chapter is written by a groupie of Franco's who he's slept with, describing their intimate encounters, as well as her feelings. Thrown in are a couple of opinions about actors, directors, and the movie business as a whole, with topics rapidly and randomly changing. A few times he lists names of actors, which was a bit annoying.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marythios (AkaSusanne )

    I do not even know what I just read. I felt like James Franco went on a ranting rampage about the movie industry. It was not a novel but a book filled with short stories. This book failed in every way possible. Maybe this book is better if you are high on some drugs or drunk as a skunk to get what he is trying to tell the reader. I finished this but it as such a pain to get to the end. I do not like to DNF books but this was that bad. I do not know how a publisher thinks someone ranting about th I do not even know what I just read. I felt like James Franco went on a ranting rampage about the movie industry. It was not a novel but a book filled with short stories. This book failed in every way possible. Maybe this book is better if you are high on some drugs or drunk as a skunk to get what he is trying to tell the reader. I finished this but it as such a pain to get to the end. I do not like to DNF books but this was that bad. I do not know how a publisher thinks someone ranting about the movie industry is worth publishing when it is just a non cohesive rant fest.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    I only finished this because I was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Freda Mans-Labianca

    Meh. I wanted to like this book, I mean, I LOVE James Franco. The premise was pretty interesting too, and unheard of. Still, the book fell flat for me. It was a fictional book of short stories, it was supposed to be thespians that were not famous yet. Each story was a vignette of how they cycle around acting, tryouts, casting calls and more. Stories from their every day norm, and how they get through life. I found that almost every story had a sexual side to it, or was about things I felt uncomfort Meh. I wanted to like this book, I mean, I LOVE James Franco. The premise was pretty interesting too, and unheard of. Still, the book fell flat for me. It was a fictional book of short stories, it was supposed to be thespians that were not famous yet. Each story was a vignette of how they cycle around acting, tryouts, casting calls and more. Stories from their every day norm, and how they get through life. I found that almost every story had a sexual side to it, or was about things I felt uncomfortable reading about. I didn't need to know half of what was told, especially who was doing who. There was a moment where James was telling his story, but being fiction, you quickly realize it's him but he's talking drivel. So I lost interest. I would enjoy a memoir much more, that's clear. Fiction is not his forte in my opinion. He should stick to acting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I like this, ok, and don’t understand the low rating. I think it’s fair to take this for a satire, or at least a little tongue in cheek, rather than tasteless self-indulgence. JF doesn’t hide the fact that much of the material is autobiographical (or adapted from real life, which all fiction is), rather he calls himself out to humorous effect. Maybe the themes don’t coalesce perfectly, but they’re there and are entertaining/thoughtful enough. Also, people who are saying this doesn’t count as a n I like this, ok, and don’t understand the low rating. I think it’s fair to take this for a satire, or at least a little tongue in cheek, rather than tasteless self-indulgence. JF doesn’t hide the fact that much of the material is autobiographical (or adapted from real life, which all fiction is), rather he calls himself out to humorous effect. Maybe the themes don’t coalesce perfectly, but they’re there and are entertaining/thoughtful enough. Also, people who are saying this doesn’t count as a novel because of its unconventional structure would probably have the same bone to pick with Nabokov’s Pale Fire, which is their loss.

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