A couple of weeks ago I wrote a review for the film Palo Alto. Because I enjoyed the film so much (and I was curious about James Franco's writing), I bought the book afterwards. My only expectation was that I hoped I liked it at all especially since the film took me by surprise. It stayed in my head for days and I was hoping that the book would have the same effect.
I can't say whether the film or the book was better because they seem to be completely different animals. The film is ethereal, modern and almost whimsical. The book is much more straight forward, funny and it takes place in the 90s. They both are subtle, something that I'm a fan of. I hate being force fed as a reader or viewer. I like to contemplate and put the pieces of the puzzle together myself.
So the book is really a collection of short stories. Each one about youth. Each one sort of ironic and truthful. Even stories where the girl is the protagonist, I felt like he got it right. I'm the first to admit I was surprised. Like I said in the film review, I had read the short story, Bungalow 89, James Franco wrote for Vice and just wasn't really impressed with it. Now I feel I need to go back and reread it. There could have been some pre-judging...I'm the first to admit.
My favorite stories were about Teddy and April which is no surprise since they were my favorites in the movie. Other ones that I was fond of was Lockheed, about a nerdy girl who thinks she's flirting with the local bad boy before something very bad happens and American History which is a comical look into the reasoning mind of a teenage boy...hilarious.
There is a lot more that happens in the book than the film. The film seems to focus on only about four or five of the stories. But it doesn't mean the ones that didn't get incorporated to the the movie are any less entertaining. There was only one or two that I had a hard time getting through, that seemed to drag on a bit.
And it seems to be a theme in the book, that things don't turn out how you would imagine them to, which is refreshing. There's no formula. There's just storytelling. The details that he focuses in on are truthful and because of that, many times, really relatable and funny.
The last story, which I'll be honest, not much happens except for some humorous, almost eerie observations, was also one that I enjoyed. It was about a family trip to Yosemite. A dad and his two sons. It's told from the oldest son's perspective and I have a feeling, James really lived this one...maybe more than the others. Anyway, it was a comforting story. Made me wish I was a little boy heading out on a hike through the woods with my pops as silly as that sounds...I don't know. It was very different than the other stories in the the book, but I really liked it. And I can't quite figure out why.
So do I recommend this book? Yeah. Hell yeah actually.
The book is available in my shop or feel free to purchase through the Amazon affiliate below.
When you purchase through this link, I make a small referral commission that helps keep this blog running...enjoy and thank you for your support.