Directing Herbert White

James Franco. Graywolf (FSG, dist), $15 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55597-673-6
In his surprisingly vivid first collection of poems, film and TV star Franco writes what he knows: sonnets, sequences, and terse persona poems that explore the traps and trips of adolescence and the seductive, sometimes fatal paradoxes of Hollywood. Aggressively ragged in line and stanza shape, productively coy in their play with who speaks and for whom, Franco’s pages address “the life I made for myself” along with the lives of less fortunate media darlings: Heath Ledger, Sean Penn, Sal Mineo, Lindsay Lohan. The title refers to the film Franco made from Frank Bidart’s poem about a necrophiliac killer; there and elsewhere, Franco portrays himself as actor, director, writer, teenager, adult, and self-haunting ghost, never away from an imagined lens. Poems titled after Smiths songs reimagine doomed friends from eventful teen years—“I found I had the love life of the octopus,/ Groping and grappling.”—and establish his feel for life offscreen. As with his fiction, some readers will say that the book leans too hard on his prior fame: and yet fame, and its effects, are Franco’s primary subjects. The best of these poems are works no one else could have written, bright reflections on the author’s ambitiously dizzying time in the spotlight—or is it a hall of mirrors? (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/28/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-1-55597-331-5
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