by James Franco

Scribner, $24.00, 197 pages

In this collection of short stories the author James Franco explores, or at least attempts to explore, the minds of young adolescent men in Palo Alto, California. A city that is searching for an identity that will separate it from the other cookie cutter communities. All these stories follow the same general formula.  The first person is a troubled teen (who is generally male), drugs, and violence. Rinse and repeat. These stories follow people attacking bullies, accidentally running over pedestrians, and the latent racism that is just beneath the surface in this all American town. James Franco is a good actor, but as a writer he leaves a lot to be desired. His stories after a awhile get predictable and a bit boring. Towards the last half of the book the only way he surprises his readers is by the amount of violence and drugs these teens do. His writing is weak, and the characters only developed on a one note basis. What would have made this better would have been a wide variety of different stories, and developing the characters more than an average Hollywood movie. Mr. Franco should not quit his day job.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter