Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Reading Rainbow: Palo Alto by James Franco

Somewhat predictably, I read this book. After all, I did record a large chunk of the General Hospital run he made. Weird to say the least.

It's been months since I finished this book, but that's just how things have been flowing out here lately.

For those unfamiliar, Palo Alto is a collection of short stories penned by the modern-day Renaissance man set in his hometown of Palo Alto in the early-to-mid-1990s. Set amongst high schoolers whose lives occasionally intertwine in these stories, Franco makes the rounds through different teens' lives, always stepping into their shoes in the first-person. If one subscribes to the notion that teens aren't particularly complex, then Franco is able to convey the alienation and insecurity implicit in being a teen.

His vision/recollection of teen angst is a bit bleak, with his characters routinely exposed to senseless crime and emotionally disconnected sex, but is this really that far off?

Where he does come up a bit short is in the fleshing out of the characters. While the voices do at times seem to come from unique people, their narration does not ring in any meaningful way as stylistically dissimilar from one another. Furthermore, when attempting to take on the voice of a female, Franco has the same issue that many male authors have when trying to embody a female voice in prose: it rings inauthentic. While it is difficult to fault a male scribe for being able to accurately pen the dialogue or first-person narration from a female's perspective, the fact remains that the attempt was made and said attempt was by and large unsuccessful.

While not quite hitting it out of the park, Franco's first foray into the realm of fiction is at least an admirable attempt. Those who are inclined to read this probably will. Those who want to hate this because an actor wrote this probably will as well. Objectively, this is a perfectly readable collection of short stories with at least some merit, if not pulled together completely. There is enough here to at least be curious as to where his literary path will take him.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...