Here’s today’s James Franco business update.
Yesterday it was anounced that he’s optioned a book called “The Adderall Diaries,” which he may produce and star in.
Today’s news, exclusive here: Franco has sold all his short films to writer Dave Eggers’s DVD series for McSweeneys called Wholphin.
McSweeneys is a cult literary magazine and website run by Eggers, who’s also a cult writer and author of a couple of bestsellers. (“Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”) Think of the McSweeneys world as the anti-New Yorker for people who think Brooklyn is cool. It’s also for people who use the word ‘dude’ a lot.
Eggers is a cool dude who runs several programs out of McSweeneys including a series to help schoolkids learn to read. So Franco is doing a documentary about that program, which McSweeneys will then release along with all of Franco’s short films and documentaries–except of the course his “Saturday Night Live” documentary, which was sold to Oscilloscope.
Meanwhile. Franco’s book of short stories, called “Palo Alto,” and published by Scribners this month, is getting very positive reviews from the book trade. And while the snarky blogs are probably gunning for it, “Palo Alto” is indeed a serious and well wrought group of short stories that cannot be glibly dismissed as the work of a dilettante movie star.
“Palo Alto” contains a bunch of loosely linked stories about adolescents–ages 13 to 17–trapped in a adult-less world of violence, sex, and alcohol. One story in particular is sure to get some attention as it focuses on a gang rape of a young girl by several boys and sodomy with vegetables.
Indeed there is a lot of teenage sex here, and plenty of violence and drug taking to go with it. But this is no “Less than Zero.” Franco is not celebrating these things as Brett Easton Ellis did. Under a sheen of apathy, there’s a lot of pain. Franco creates a kind of suburban underworld that is absolutely riveting. “Palo Alto” is unforgettable. And you certainly won’t associate it with Silicon Valley billionaires after reading these stories.