Palo Alto, By James Franco

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The Independent Culture

"My sophomore year in high school, I killed a woman", confesses one narrator; "One year a kid brought a gun to school and shot his ex-girlfriend at brunch because she had a new boyfriend", reveals another.

Not all these stories of teen angst, set in the Californian suburb of Palo Alto in which actor-writer-artist James Franco (currently starring in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours) grew up, are violent.

When they are, the shock is cushioned by a deadpan narrative tone that perfectly sums up the pain, boredom and horror of adolescence.

"Halloween" describes a boy's emotional dissociation after he kills a stranger; "Chinatown" is a complex depiction of sexual consent/violation. Franco proves he is as adept at writing fiction as winning a Golden Globe.