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Actors Anonymous

2.53 of 5 stars 2.53  ·  rating details  ·  1,207 ratings  ·  274 reviews
The actors in James Franco’s brilliant debut novel include a McDonald’s drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then there’s Fr ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by New Harvest (first published August 1st 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Christie
Actors Anonymous calls itself a novel, but really, it is a collection of short stories and ramblings, loosely based around the concept of Alcoholics Anonymous. In theory, this seems like it could be an interesting idea – a behind-the-scenes look written by a famous actor about the seedy underside of the acting industry. However, the problem here is that this book has no central cohesive plot. Franco isn't able to weave all of the stories together in a way that means anything. Each narrator of ea ...more
Casey
This James Franco book was really very James Franco. It was the most James Franco sort of James Franco book I have ever read. You can tell that the author, James Franco, really loves James Franco. If you enjoyed my commentary about this James Franco book by James Franco you might like to read Actor's Anonymous by James Franco. James Franco.
Barry Wightman
Famous Actor James Franco has written something. The book’s cover describes it as “James Franco’s brilliant debut novel." Ah. A clue — it is a "novel.”

Here’s how it begins:

“I am the Actor. I am alive in 2013 and I was alive in 1913. … I am Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando and Jimmy Stewart ...”

Uh oh.

If you’re of a certain age, you remember Barry Manilow’s chart-topping ‘70s megahit “I Write the Songs,” written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston. A charming, thoroughly treacly and sappy tune: “I’ve been
...more
kelly
Holy shit, this was bad...

Jesus, where do I start?

This book calls itself a novel, but it isn't. Not even close. It is a collection of short stories, Franco's ramblings about the film industry, scripts, and bad poetry--loosely based around the concept of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This could have been a nice book (there are mixed media, untraditional novels that pull themselves together quite nicely--i.e., Jennifer Egan's Visit from the Goon Squad) but Actors Anonymous is a mess. There
...more
Ben
I like and respect James Franco and really wanted to like this book. But in the end I had to agree with Franco's blunt, self-critical analysis: "James, I am going to be as frank as I can be: Stop writing. You don't have the facility for it. You have the love, but not the skill. As I have said innumerable times, you throw in a lot of flash, to hide a lack of substance. I think this comes from your deep fear that readers won't accept you as an actor and a writer."

Authors usually aren't this self-a
...more
Callie Rose Tyler
So this was weird. Going into this I had a pretty ambivalent attitude towards James Franco and after reading this book I kind of still do. I don't really know what to make of this very odd book or the man who wrote it.

Is it the ramblings of a madman?



Is it a monument to narcissism?



Is it a desperate plea for attention?



Is it a pretentious manifesto?



Is it good?



I honestly don't know if this was good because I'm still trying to understand the intent. There are moments when Franco is so unbelievably p
...more
Ryan Field
I finished this novel last night and figured I'd better post a review while it's still fresh in my mind. And that's because in many ways it reminds me of a graduate course I took senior year in college called Communications and Literature. I was supposed to take this lame senior seminar as a requirement, but with a little foot work and a really cool advisor in the fine arts department who had some national fame at the time (and signed anything I asked him to sign because he knew how hard I worke ...more
Jake
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. From the beginning I tried to forget that James Franco is an actor and judge the book just on the writing, but that wasn't possible. Franco didn't let me forget that it was written by "The Actor" as he kept popping up in first and third person. The book read like a short story collection. Some of it was really good. Some of it was pretty bad. But, overall I enjoyed it more than I've enjoyed recent books by Chuck Palahniuk. It's worth a read if you aren' ...more
Marie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul
Oct 30, 2013 Paul added it
Shelves: 2013
For one thing, I doubt very highly that this book was copyedited (I doubt it was edited at all—not by Franco himself nor by anyone else. None of the writing surpasses the quality or feel of first-draft material.) It’s a bad sign when a novel’s first sentence exhibits bad grammar (“We of Actors Anonymous are more than fifty men and women who…”), and we’re treated to at least one more misstep before graduating to page two. Aside from bad grammar, though, which is borderline rampant, strange format ...more
Nicole
I tried to avoid reading reviews before reading this book because I wanted to go into it with a blank slate, but I couldn’t help reading all the GoodRead reviews. Even after reading bad reviews I decided to give him a chance. There’s no doubt Franco has a talent writing but, like quite a few writers, there are some things he needs to work on.

Most of the characters were extremely unlikable and have something to do with addiction. I felt a lot of the stories were redundant and this is definitely n
...more
La Mala *only happy when it rains*
EDIT: Diciembre, 2014

Por favor, si existe alguien más pretencioso y sobrevalorado que James Franco en Hollywood, pasenme el dato. Creo que es insuperable este papanatas.



Reseña Original Junio, 2014

pretencioso, sa.
(Del fr. prétentieux).
1. adj. Presuntuoso, que pretende ser más de lo que es.


No me gusta decir que alguien sea un escritor famoso o el fulano de tal de tu vecino es pretencioso ; odio usar el adjetivo porque , sinceramente , creo que todos tenemos algo de pretension en nosotros ... es d
...more
Kandace
Franco was extremely ambitious in Actors Anonymous. The style ranged from almost-stream-of-conscience snippets to emails, text messages to very well crafted prose. The overall feel of the style was in the vein of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. However, Franco was unable to capitalize on the form as Egan did, primarily because there is no story progression. In fact there is very little story at all. To call Actors Anonymous a novel is a gross exaggeration. Instead of a unifying plot ...more
Cindy Knoke
It is hard to imagine this book ever being published if the author wasn't a famous actor.
That also appears to be the focus and theme of this "tome-ette", the fact that the author is a famous actor.
It cannot in all accuracy be referred to as a novel. It is more a series of loosely constructed vignettes, much like one might encounter in a cheesy acting class. Incidentally and unsurprisingly, there is a fair amount of cheesy acting class vignettes in this novelette. Let's call it a novelette, wri
...more
Sandy
This book is unlike anything that I've read before. It's quite original, and for that, I give props to Franco. Although loosely based on Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps to recovery, this book is presented in a compilation of the typical book format, as well as essays, poems, short stories, footnotes, etc. I particularly like the footnotes section where the writing is in the present tense and talks of what is happening, while the footnotes take place after the death of The Actor, and are that perso ...more
Christina Le
It was an easy read and took me about a day. I wouldn't call it a novel but more like a series of short stories that are tied together. I like the idea behind it and how it explains that being an actor is more than just a performance and the different point of views of how people interpret the lifestyle. My favorite part of the book was probably his letters to the reader, "Anyone that is driven to play dress-up for a living is trying to hide something either from himself or don't others. Or te s ...more
David
Noodling around in the library the other day, I saw this book by James Franco that I did not remember hearing about, so I picked up: On the cover it said it was a novel, and I wondered why I did not know he'd written a novel. The short stories had gotten so much publicity, I must have been under a rock to miss the kind of fuss a novel would have caused. (NOTE: If this is a novel, then I'm Jane Austen!) When I saw that it claimed to be the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of Actors Anonymous, that seem ...more
Colleen Wainwright
So sharp and incisive in places it's maddening how sloppy and slapdash it is throughout. Here's an insider who gives a shit and can write. Go ahead: hate on the dude. He can write. Apparently, like latter-day Stephen King (who can, whether you like his quirky, colloquial style or not, also write), no one is willing to edit him. At least, that's my best guess as to the highly uneven but ultimately disappointing collection of thoughts/stories/rants contained herein.

Me? I love stories about people
...more
Leah Cass
Part of me wants to say 5 stars, part of me wants to say 1 star. Definitely artsy and experimental, and not very cohesive.
Jenelle
I feel dumber for having read this book. Seriously.
Meave
Being a fan of James Franco, I was extremely excited for this book (even pre-ordered it on Amazon, and I never pre-order!) but to say it was a disappointment is an understatement. There is no discernible plot; I wouldn't even classify it as a novel but rather a collection of short stories. Almost all of the short stories revolve around James Franco himself, even though this is supposed to be fiction. They're either about fictional characters in situations James Franco has talked before about exp ...more
Po Po
Plenty of name-dropping, too many narratives, and not enough direction. Tried to bring things together, but failed miserably.

There were some funny parts. All of the self-referential megalomaniacal stuff that others found distasteful, I really enjoyed.

I also liked the nuggets of truth that came by surprise every now and again:

"We all have masks. Often, I like to write about young people, because it's a time when they are still sculpting their masks.

When we get older, after years of use, the mask
...more
Chloe
Nooooooo! I defended Palo Alto with my soul, and I have been let dowwnnnn.
Alright, straight up. The text really only connects with a certain breed of reader - namely, Actors/ movie people. I consider myself a well-to-do movie buff and I could not care about any of the characters. But really, I tried.
It was much easier to emotionally connect with Palo Alto because, who hasn't been an angry teenager? I don't work in the movies, I don't know any actors, so I care very little about the philosophica
...more
Wiebke (1book1review)
This is the first of Franco's books I read and I like the idea and the format. Especially the chapters that feel like total word vomit where he's just saying what's on his mind stream of consciousness style. I also liked the idea of experimenting with different narrations and characters and not following a plot from beginning to end.
Nevertheless it feels a bit long and repetitive at some point and also constructed, especially in the chapters about The Actor.
I'm curious to read more of his books
...more
Marina
no. nope. nahhhh.
this was confusing, pretentious, and failed at being edgy/artsy.
the general thought of reviewers seems to be that the male characters are all dicks, and I'd agree. some books containing vulgarities are alright; the bad stuff adds to the book's tone and feel. in this case it was just gross for the sake of... butts? I don't even know.
I'm definitely a little sad about how crappy this book was, I'd looked forward to an interesting read by a cool actor. but nay, the fates clearly di
...more
Veronica
I gave "Actors Anonymous" one star, because really, it's brave of James Franco to put material out there to be admired/judged. Criticism is hard, because it's always subjective, and I can't just say, "I hate it!" and expect people to go along with me.

...but I HATED this book. I don't agree with the term "novel." I'd say it's more a collection of thoughts, short stories and stream of consciousness paragraphs. This in itself isn't a bad thing, but James Franco has the unfortunate ability to insert
...more
Casey
This book really took me back to my writing classes in high school and college. I was tempted to write in a lot of experimental ways back then, and sometimes I did experiment. But as I've grown as a reader and a writer I've come to see that the best writers are usually invisible. The stories speak, but the writer doesn't. Some writers paint poetic images with their words. Sometimes what they do works, and sometimes it really doesn't. I believe that Franco has some talent as a writer (he probably ...more
Maggie
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 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 F ...more
Jonathan
Entertaining, darkly humorous, and reminiscent of some of Brett Easton Ellis's novels, this is James Franco looking at the subject we mostly associate him with - acting. A novel of sorts, it follows several characters and situations which link up through the book, written in a way to imitate the 12 step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, but from an actor's point of view. Far from a fluffy, aspirational actor in Hollywood, the main characters are quietly self-obsessed, lacking in morality, and w ...more
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James Edward Franco is an American actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, and painter. He began acting during the late 1990s, appearing on the short-lived television series Freaks and Geeks and starring in several teen films. In 2001 he played the title role in Mark Rydell's television biographical film James Dean, which earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Miniseries ...more
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