Noted graduate student James Franco has published a short story in Esquire. Titled “Just Before the Black,” it explores the ever-fertile territory of vaguely seedy ennui, and the possibilities for escape through fantasy, drugs and death.
Those familiar with Franco’s home turf (the Bay Area) will feel the zing of recognition: “the Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course,” “Foothill, the junior college,” the general experience of spending most of one’s time on “the dark 280 freeway.”
In fact, Franco’s short story collection—due out in October—will be called Palo Alto.
Here are some situations that might reasonably be described in a short-story collection called “Palo Alto”:
- Playing frisbee on Stanford campus
- Attending a high-quality public school
- Deciding that San Francisco is too far to drive and just hanging out on University Avenue.
In any case, we will keep our eye on this young talent: We are curious to see what he produces.
Franco’s protagonist has a fondness for posing hypothetical choices, like “Would you rather be the pope or Pablo Escobar?”
To the author we ask, “Would you rather be a famous actor, or somebody’s T.A.?”