James Franco’s Literary Debut Is Probably Doomed

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Such a pity, they'd make such a lovely couple. Photo: Getty Images

For many celebrities, there comes a time when they want to do something new. Something that requires the use of their minds, not just their beautiful, beautiful bodies. Some endeavor to learn about architecture, or try their hand at the ancient art of making perfume. Others want to Direct. But there is a segment of them who want to write. Among them is the actor James Franco, the first-year NYU Columbia MFA student and Pineapple Express star, whose short-story collection was recently bought by Scribner in a deal we expect will soon be described by Publisher's Lunch as "good" or even "significant." Will it be any good? Does it even matter? Steve Martin aside, fiction attempts by celebrities are almost always cursed when it comes to public opinion.

Ethan Hawke: "Hawke's emotionally raw account of a world inescapably contracted is oddly affecting," Publisher's Weekly wrote of the actor's debut novel, The Hottest State. Alas, most found it affected. "People in their early 20s, even pretty people, lose their appeal when they dwell this obsessively on their own inchoate turmoil," the Times' Steven Holden later said of Hawke's film adaptation. Not long ago, passages of the Hottest State and his second novel, Ash Wednesday, were read aloud at an event celebrating "Lemons of Literature."


Madonna No less than School Library Journal sniffed at Madge's The English Roses, which she wrote in her previous incarnation as a English lady of the manor. "All in all, this overproduced episode, the first of a projected series, will have to rely on hype rather than content or presentation to find a readership." Damn. Those librarians are nasty!






Nicole Richie "Move aside, Jonathan Safran Foer," the Times snarked when Nicole Richie's veiled roman à clef, The Truth About Diamonds, was published in 2005. Richie had the last laugh, though, as her book stayed on the best-seller list for months.






Pamela Anderson: Bea Arthur read passages from Pamela Anderson's Star at Comedy Central's roast of the actress to "honor her literary achievements." Everyone laughed, but not because the book was funny.






Courteney Thorne-Smith: Gawker, which excerpted the book, actually noted that "Courtney Thorne-Smith is smart and funny for an actress!" but Publisher's Weekly was less kind: "The characters — Kate's eccentric mother, her wisecracking best friend and her nominal love interest (an agent who improbably dreams of being a novelist) — seldom move beyond their stereotypical origins. A typical Hollywood ending caps the story, but getting there is not nearly as much fun as it should be."


Alan Cumming: Bookslut basically damned Alan Cumming's novel Tommy with faint praise: "Once you get past the initial skepticism and evaluate Tommy's Tale on its own terms, you will find a book that's fun and charming; weightless perhaps, but what's wrong with that?"






Jewel: Of the singer's 1999 poetry collection, Library Journal noted, "Sure, there are too many prepositions and some cliched images; an attempt to be philosophical is laughable," Library Journal noted. But other that that, "Jewel's poems are reasonably good."






Best of luck, James Franco!


'Spiderman' Star Takes Up the Pen [Fox via Vulture]