This was seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The concept of twelve steps to "recovery" was potentially interesting, but nearly all of the...moreThis was seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The concept of twelve steps to "recovery" was potentially interesting, but nearly all of the chapters were so poorly crafted that they couldn't live up to the concept. Some chapters read more like essays/rants by Franco himself, written in short sentences, with no discernible narrative arc or sense of direction. I think in these sections he was trying to poke fun at his own fame, but the way he does it makes both Franco as character and Franco as writer come across as (for lack of a better term) a douchebag.
The other chapters are first-person narratives by people who aspire to be actors in one way or another. Some are more engaging than others, but none are dynamically developed enough to stand on their own. The fact that all the stories are left dangling is probably meant to leave readers wondering what becomes of all these characters (here's a clue: probably not too much), but really it comes across as Franco writing himself into corners he doesn't know how to get himself out of. He takes the easy way out every time.
Franco's no doubt a smart, ambitious guy. But just because he can do all these different creative things doesn't mean he should. All the graduate degrees in the world aren't going to make him a good writer. I doubt this would have made it out of the slush pile had it not been for his name.
I borrowed this for free from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, so at least I didn't pay for it.(less)
I used this textbook for an Introduction to Creative Writing class. While I think nobody explains elements of craft better than Janet Burroway, overal...moreI used this textbook for an Introduction to Creative Writing class. While I think nobody explains elements of craft better than Janet Burroway, overall I was pretty disappointed with this textbook. The organization wasn't useful for a class that covers each genre separately, and I found myself having to supplement the readings with a lot of handouts. Students complained that the craft discussions in most chapters dragged on for too long, and honestly in some places I agreed with them. I won't be using this book again. (less)
I've lost an afternoon in worse ways than I did reading this book, but I have a feeling I'll never think about these characters ever again once I take...moreI've lost an afternoon in worse ways than I did reading this book, but I have a feeling I'll never think about these characters ever again once I take it back to the library. Line by line, the writing is smooth and technically precise, as I've come to expect from Antonya Nelson, but, as other reviewers have mentioned, the narrative distance is so far away that all of the characters come across as sad and cold and sort of doomed to never break out of the patterns we see them in. Nelson used to be one of my favorite writers; I thought Living To Tell was a great novel, and I liked a few of her earlier books, too. But as I've gotten older and have read a lot more contemporary fiction, I find that I'm growing really tired of her lack of range. I wish she'd challenge herself to write something that doesn't involve any of the following: Kansas, an alcoholic, a dysfunctional family, a relationship involving adultery, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico.
That said, the last few paragraphs were really wonderful. Sadly, I don't think the book earned an ending that good, though. (less)