Actor James Franco adds author to his credits

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The star of Eat Pray Love, Milk, Pineapple Express, the Spider-Man series, and the upcoming 127 Hours by director Danny Boyle, James Franco has taken his recent role in Howl as beat poet Allen Ginsberg to heart and written a collection of short stories, entitled Palo Alto, that was released in the US on October 19.

The 11 tales are set in the actor's suburban Northern California hometown, Palo Alto, and center around the unsettling behavior of adolescents.

"A collection of beautifully written stories," wrote Kirkus. "Franco's stories are impressive: crisp, spare, depressing..." Overall, the book has received positive reviews, describing his writing as "delightfully coarse...compelling and gutsy" and "original and impressive."

Not surprisingly, among the mixed responses, some critics have panned the first literary effort by the movie star as "thin" and "amateurish."

The actor has received a master's degree in writing from Brooklyn College. He also studied writing at Columbia University and film studies at New York University. Currently he's enrolled at Yale to obtain a Ph.D. in English, so he may add a doctorate to his credentials.

Besides his reputation as an actor, Franco has written and directed short plays and films. He can also add artist to his repertoire of talents with an exhibit of paintings, sculptures and installations at a current solo show, The Dangerous Book Four Boys, at the Clocktower Gallery in Manhattan through October.

Currently shooting Rise of the Apes, the prequel to the Planet of the Apes franchise with Tom Felton, Andy Serkis and Freida Pinto, Franco will also be seen in Your Highness, a medieval comedy with Natalie Portman.

Franco will be honored at the upcoming Santa Barbara International Film Festival, January 27 - February 6, for Outstanding Performance of the Year for his role in 127 Hours, already getting Oscar buzz from Hollywood bloggers.

He is acquiring the film rights to memoirs such as Holy Land and The Adderall Diaries, so his list of credentials may soon include producer.

Palo Alto was published in the US on October 19 and is due out January 20 in the UK.