The Soft Sweet Poetry Of James Franco’s Short Fiction

James Franco, an American actor best known for his role as Sgt. Dan Carnelli in In the Valley of Elah has been studying creative writing at Columbia University (and also film at New York University? And also is in movies? How many hours are in this dude’s days?). He has already sold a collection of short stories titled Palo Alto to Scribner, so apparently the student has become the master (huh?). Of course, until that book is published, experience of Franco’s work is limited mostly to his writing workshop colleagues, sitting around the critique table. And anyone who can get their hands on his dream journal. But this week, Esquire magazine has published a short story titled “Just Before the Black.” Excuse me, a short MASTERPIECE. Of course, you can read the whole story here, preferably in your favorite chair, with a glass of whatever it is people drink when they’re reading? Warm vodka? But I’ve taken the liberty of quoting some of my favorite lines:

My window is cracked, just a bit, and the air plays on my forehead like a cold whisper.

The building is beige, but the shadows make it shadow-color.

I guess in some lives lived, no one tells you what to be, and so you be nothing.

I guess they didn’t have toilets. Just stuck their asses out and shat in the moat. But someone had to wash out the hole.

I am friends with a slug, and my other friends are pigs and wolves.

Joe sucks off his cigarette.

He looks at me and the blue shadow-smoke drifts over the gate of his teeth like fog over a graveyard.

James Franco, writing down the bones! More after the jump!

He smiles with rotten teeth like busted shingles, all climbing over each other, and yellowing gray teeth next to shit-colored gums just don’t go together, and I think, Why don’t you get some braces motherfucker and brush those dang things, but I don’t really think about that too much because I’m thinking about something else, or at least getting ready to do something else, or already doing …

Joe just looks at me with that stupid look, covered in flowing blood, going onto his shirt like ketchup randomness, so much messier and more random than I could ever plan.

I wish I was Mexican, or Hebrew, I mean Jewish, I mean Israeli, or Mexican Jewish, or Mexican Jewish gay, because it can be so boring being you sometimes, and if you were the most special thing like that, it could be really great, but maybe some people say the same thing about you, and you want to tell those people: “No, you’re stupid, it’s no fun being me.”

I think about the little dragon that the bong is and I so wish that dragons were real, because it would mean that none of this shit was the end of everything, because even if you were high, this world only let you escape a little bit, it let you escape enough that you knew that there could be something better, but it wouldn’t let you into that place; like standing on the cloudy threshold of heaven and seeing something so bright and tantalizing and warmy-womby-feeling but not being able to enter, just feeling the heat a little on your face, and you want to cry and smile, but instead you just stare and you can’t do anything.

I can feel their mind-killing slime thought rubbing on me and corroding me and killing me.

And I think of the olden times, when knights would aim huge lances at each other and you would feel that when it hit you, feel that force of the momentum of the horses’ pumping channeled into the lance, and for a second you might know that you were really alive.

James Franco, everybody. He contains multidudes.

(Via Vulture.)