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Palo Alto: Stories


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About the Author

James Franco is an acclaimed actor, director, artist, and writer. His film appearances include 127 Hours, Milk, Pineapple Express, Oz the Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers, and the Spider-Man trilogy. Franco has written and directed several films, and his visual art has been featured in solo shows in Los Angeles and New York. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Wall Street Journal, McSweeney's, and other publications. Franco has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College.


"James Franco's California teenagers are too old for camp, but not too young for guns (a boy riding his bike to pick up a gun says, 'I rode fast and the air on my face was like riding through cold ghosts'). The casual cruelty of children escalates as kids strike out against everything that is more powerful than they are. It's the harsh humor that surprises in these stories--that and the observations that show James Franco to be an original and simpatico voice finely tuned to the territory. These quotable, unsettling stories stay with you; they seem to change the ions in a room."--Amy Hempel
"James Franco's stories are raw, unsettling and delectable. Each articulates a very American yearning within a dystopic suburban landscape of shifting sexuality, class and race. They are both really scary and fun to read."--Darcey Steinke, author of Easter Everywhere
"Franco's talent is unmistakable, his ambition profound. He has taken the twin subjects of suburban Palo Alto and American adolescence and made them as scary and true as they must be. This is a book to be inhaled more than once, with delight and admiration, with unease and pure enjoyment. As a writer, he's here to stay."--Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story
"James Franco's chilling stories seem too true for comfort. The characters in Palo Alto navigate off a moral compass so smashed they bruise everything they touch. Franco's intense artistry swarms all over this gripping book. Think Bret Easton Ellis, Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker. Or better yet, just think James Franco."--Ben Marcus, author of Notable American Women
"James Franco is a writer of skill and sensitivity whose depiction of cruelty and neglect, of amusement and loneliness, of longing and being lost--of the pains and chaos of adolescence--is original and impressive. He manages to depict the numbingly stupid and dangerous behavior of teenagers and make it amazingly amusing then suddenly deeply sad."--Susan Minot, author of Rapture
"These rough messages torn from the notebook of angry youth just make us want to ask James Franco to say it ain't so. These angular stories read like dispatches from the edge of civilization: all the young people hurting and denying it, denying connection, denying their hope for anything but tonight, the next thing. James Franco does not blink as he offers us these stories -- and it is hard for us to look away."--Ron Carlson, author of The Signal
"The stories are raw and funny-sad, and they capture with perfect pitch the impossible exhilaration, the inevitable downbeat-ness, and the pure confusion of being an adolescent."--Elle
"Spare and riveting... Franco's ear for juvenile vernacular is like an Ouija board summoning the lost voices of Generation Z."--O, the Oprah Magazine
"Franco's stories are impressive: crisp, spare, depressing.... A collection of beautifully written stories."--Kirkus, starred review
"[Franco] makes the difficult appear simple, which only a good writer can do."--Booklist
"Compelling and gutsy."--Meghan O'Grady, Vogue
"Rigorously unsentimental and fabulously dark."--Michael Cunningham

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