Books Of The Year #10: Palo Alto

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November 30, 2011 by markstani

It’s too easy to be contemptuous of James Franco’s Palo Alto (pub. Faber). Here’s a multi-tasking Hollywood superstar penning paens of teenage ultra-angst. In fact, this collection is as shocking and true a portrayal of adolescence as you’ll read in a long time. Franco’s characters are never more than vaguely outlined, which adds to the over-arching nihilism of their lives, and hints that these tortured souls could be, and have been, all of us too. All told, it’s much more disturbing than going to the cinema and watching a guy have to saw his own arm off.

In fourth grade Sasha Alexander was the biggest dork I could ever think of. Buckteeth and short red hair and glasses. She said she could play basketball better than me. I laughed. We played at lunch and I won. She didn’t admit that I won. Back in class I told her she was a dork and a poor loser, and she stabbed me in the arm with a pencil. The hole was gray from the graphite.
Mr DeFelice didn’t do anything about it.

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