James Franco – actor, artist, adept dabbler (above) – has written a novel. Actors Anonymous is published on Tuesday and is billed as an “intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity”. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” writes Franco. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, look inside.” He also writes, “I’m here to entertain you but I don’t really care about entertaining you.”
The novel is loosely modelled on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps manual, with each chapter taking a different form – essay, confessional, text messages – and different voice. In one, a former child star recalls past drug binges, another tells the tale of a young vampire saga actress, another is dedicated to poetry about River Phoenix.
Franco studied English at UCLA and graduated from Columbia’s MFA writing programme in 2010, when he also published his first collection of short stories, Palo Alto. He is currently enrolled on an English PhD at Yale University. At one point in Actors Anonymous, a narrator called James receives a note from a professor that says simply, “stop writing”, but since the novel is a “fiction of identity”, any resemblance to real persons is, no doubt, purely coincidental.
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