James Franco recorded himself reading a short story from the summer issue of the Paris Review. Then he sent the audio and video to the magazine. It’s Amie Barrodale’s story “William Wei.” Mr. Franco is not sure how to pronounce the title at first. He has a goatee. He lies prone, reading from his iPhone, a recorder placed on his chest. He appears to be in a hotel? It’s unclear. The room is minimally adorned, and a digital clock on the bedside table reveals its after midnight. A female companion does the videotaping.