book club: a california childhood

Is this james franco’s junior high diary?

by ali hoffman

Who is James Franco? This may seem like a silly question, but you might find it more difficult to answer than you think.

Is he the sweet guy from Freaks and Geeks? Is he the nervous actor fumbling on stage at the Academy Awards? Is he Spider-Man? Or, most recently--and our current obsession--the gold-toothed "Alien" from Spring Breakers. Sure, the ability to transform from one character to the next is kind of what the gig is all about--but when it comes to differentiating between Franco playing a character and Franco in real life, the line often seems a bit blurry (to say the least). His latest endeavor, a unofficial memoir titled A California Childhood hitting bookshelves today, doesn't exactly clear any of this up. In the introduction, Franco writes, "The text and images come from all periods of my artistic life, but the subject matter all derives from my younger years.

I'd like to make claim that this is fiction, but what isn't nowadays?" But that's not to say it isn't completely entertaining--after all, it is James Franco. Filled to the brim with family photos of his childhood in Palo Alto, memorabilia from high school, surprisingly impressive paintings and doodles, original short stories and journal entries, the book is hard to put down--even after you've read it cover to cover.

But what's true versus what's a recreated memory, or even a totally fictionalized account? Well, we leave it for you to decide if that even matters at all.  Order a copy here!

James Franco

The Franco family, Palo Alto, California

"Old Painting" by James Franco

"Old Painting" by James Franco

Portrait by James Franco