James Franco’s newest book has just been released, and this time it’s a collection of poetry. Directing Herbert White (Graywolf Press, $15), is a collection of poems written by the Oscar-nominated actor, mostly about being an actor in Hollywood. His first book, a collection of fiction called Palo Alto, came out of mostly negative critical reviews. Though it’s still early, a New York Times book review suggests Franco’s poetry just might be a touch better than his fiction.
“Is it, you may be wondering, any good? No. But neither is it entirely bad,” the review starts bluntly. “The poems are uniformly written in the kind of flat, prosy free verse, with stanzas that aren’t so much stanzas as elongated paragraphs.”
Franco’s best poems seem to be the ones that detail working on a film, when the subject matter is the farthest from Franco himself. While the review complements Franco on his “decent ear for speech,” it also condemns his “bad sense of the poetic line.”
“He’s prone to phrases that sound good at first but collapse under scrutiny. Some of the writing is almost aggressively lazy. Many poems rocket past sincerity and plunge straight into sentimentality; others demonstrate a self-disgust more interesting to the author than the reader.”
James Franco’s book of poetry wouldn’t be getting reviewed right now if he weren’t “James Franco” http://t.co/wNOrC9tuDK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 20, 2014
While the review doesn’t tear Franco apart, it does make the point that it’s only being reviewed because “James Franco” wrote it – otherwise, it would have never made headlines. “Only eight or so articles about poetry books have been deemed worthy of coverage; that’s very few poets getting the honor of a full-sized New York Times Book Review consideration, something that fell to Franco quite easily,” Flavorwire points out.
Franco doesn’t seem to be so concerned with the reviews or the fact that his work is only reviewed because of his namesake; James just wants to keep making art. He’s still on Broadway starring in “Of Mice and Men,” seeing rave reviews and even having a few celebrity guests. Lana Del Rey was seen backstage with James after a show; the sultry singer has popped up Franco’s Instagram feed ever since, firing up the rumor mill. Despite whether it’s solely friendship or not, the two artists seem to be enjoying each other’s company for now.
Image via Comedy Central