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Straight James/Gay James

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  317 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Actor James Franco's chapbook of poems explores the different personas he uses in his writing, art, acting, and filmmaking. The poetry varies from the imagistic to the prosaic. Franco's poems delve into issues of identity, sexuality, private and public life, being a brother, a son, an artist and actor. The chapbook also contains an interview of Gay James conducted by ...more
Paperback, 60 pages
Published January 1st 2016 by Hansen Publishing Group
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2016 Reading Challenge #15: A book written by a celebrity.

James Franco's negotiations with the publisher:
—I would like to publish my book.
—Can't do. It sucks.
—But I'm James Franco. I'm famous.
—Say no more, 10000 copies.

At least that's how I imagine it went. Because seriously, this is not good.

Straight James/Gay James it's like the diary of a teenager, a rich and oh-so-misunderstood teenager: really bad poetry and lots of egocentric meanderings. And that's after being edited.

"This is a poem
Mar 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016, netgalley, poetry
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA what the fuck did I just read.
no seriously, someone tell me.
was this supposed to be poetry?

So netgalley gave this copy to me to review but I'm not even sure what to say really except that this was bad.

really bad.

I like James Franco I do, I just don't like his poetry and I only requested this book because the cover and title were very eye catching. Too bad the poetry (prose?) sucks.

If I ever got high, it would be to be
The woman. If I ever did porn,
I'd want to be the woman.
Joseph Spuckler
Jan 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Straight James / Gay James by James Franco is a chapbook of poetry by the actor and filmmaker. The collection starts with a variety of poems centered on Southern California and Hollywood seemingly trying to channel the spirit of Jim Morrison. Perhaps the centerpiece of the collection is a conversational poem between straight James Franco and gay James Franco. In real life, Franco is ambiguous and private when it comes to his sexuality. This lengthy poem does little to clarify the matter and ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
This is perhaps the most ridiculous collection of "poetry" I've ever encountered.

There's this thing that happens to some people like Franco, a smugness that begins to creep into everything they do. I've seen that smugness peer out of Franco's face when he's talked up on talk shows and in interviews, when he performs in mediocre comedies that he thinks are progressive and incisive. And at some point, that smugness turns into downright self-delusion. I think Franco has hit that point, at light
Ali Adenwala
May 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbt, poetry

Honestly, what did I just read? Lmaooo. I'm almost tempted to give this three stars because I really did enjoy it, but as a piece of comedy rather than actual poetry. Seriously though, I genuinely feel bad for all those other would-be poets and writers out there, with real talent and originality - because I think we all know that the only reason this was published is because it was written by James Franco. There's no other reason, these poems literally sound like
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Written by James Franco
2016, 60 Pages
Genre: poetry

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


I was really curious to read this poetry book written by Hollywood actor, James Franco. He has written two books and I have not heard too much about his writing. I started this chapbook with no expectations and am glad I did. I found the writing to be almost free flow and raw. He uses poetry as an outlet for what he is thinking. He questions many
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I got to read an advanced version of this title on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It was my first netgalley book experience, and I rather enjoyed it. I normally prefer the hard copy books, but I do think I will have to do this more often.

So this book grew on me the more I read on. I have never read anything by James Franco and wasn't sure if this book was authentic, a satire, or a joke. The first poem, Dumbo, didn't leave much of an impression on me, until I re-read it after
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
60 page book. 42 pages of actual poetry. 12 dollars for the paperback. all that has nothing to do with my rating. i would like to rate this book 2 stars because i didn't like it. i'll keep it simple: i thought it was bad. not quite 1 star bad, but 2 star. that's all. the end.
Dec 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
Honestly, I have no idea what to think exactly. There were times where I thought "Wow, this is something..." and then other parts where I thought "How the fuck is this poetry?"

Jaffa Kintigh
Jan 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, poetry, gltbq
This collective work falls in line with poetic performance art pieces more than it does a poetry chapbook as James Franco explores many aspects of persona. The poetics by itself is passable but never sublime. However, the teasing and toying of personal versus public persona and the concept of a person as a series of situational masks work together to elevate this collection into something greater than the sum of its parts.

James Franco is famous. He knows it, as does his reader. So rather than
Alex Jackman
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Straight James/Gay James, Franco explores themes of fame, personal identity, public identity, youth duality and sexuality. The title, and the interview/essay it comes from, is seemingly a thesis statement for much of the book - attempting to reconcile the James Franco we know as the public, and the James Franco we will never know as the public. Fans of the artist will enjoy some behind the scenes info on a few of Franco's projects, and may recognize anecdotes that made their way into his ...more
Maiko Lenting-Lu
Jan 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
I received a early reading copy of this book from NetGalley. James Franco was the draw card, of course, but from the first page I couldn't quite tell if he was taking the mickey. When I finished the book, I still wasn't sure...

The poems talk about how hard it is to live a double life and all my cynical mind was thinking was 'yes, it must be very difficult being successful, rich and good looking.' So, poems that were perhaps meant to stir some sympathy just made me annoyed. The interview of James
Jan 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Such a strange book of poems but it's definitely James lol
Kassie Kay
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book.I have a hard time reading some of these other reviews that say "he never answered if he is straight or gay" because I feel like he answered it exactly the way he feels and it was a great response to the question.I feel like if you don't understand the answer you are close-minded thinking a person can only either be straight or gay.You can be straight in your live but be gay in certain aspects of your life as well.I also see a lot of people rating it low with reviews saying "he ...more
Laila Tarek
May 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was so intrigued when my eyes fell on this title, I mean James Franco on a book cover??! The book grabbed my immediate attention and I went straight to it.

Unfortunately, I’m GREATLY disappointed with this so-called book.

These are definitely not considered poems, or anything else regarding that matter.

The “poems” don’t make sense.

If I ever got high, it would be to be
The woman. If I ever did porn,
I’d want to be the woman.
I don’t want to be the man in woman

I just want to be woman.
But I will never
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: three-stars
Straight James/Gay James is almost a book that you'd pick up in a pretentious bookstore that was self published by a no-name pretentious author. It's an unremarkable paperback. What saves it though is James Franco's celebrity. Nearly every poem is about his fame, his fans, his career, or even his Gucci modeling contract. I'd call the book personal, but opaque. It doesn't make James Franco seem like a real person- it's a book about James Franco working out who James Franco is exactly.
Cress ☾
Apr 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
Poetry, like beauty, is subjective. I cannot tell you that you will not enjoy this, it was definitely humorous at parts (I don't think it was intentional, though.)
I definitely respect Franco for trying, but I knew from the first "poem" that this book was definitely not for me.
Miguel Vega
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.3/5 stars. Pretty weird, and interesting at the same time. I love Lana Del Rey, and Franco's constant references to her were nice. The only poem that stood out to me was New Rebels, and the interview with his Gay Persona at the end was also a little...weird but whatever, I'm down with it.
Casey Kiser
‘There is a face
and it’s mine.
It is a mask I wear
and money comes.’

May 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
I almost feel bad for even "promoting" this book by writing a review. I was honestly lost more than 90% of the time while I read through this "poetry" book. I just...did not understand all. There were only a couple of poems where I found myself saying "alright...I guess this one makes sense." There is no other way for me to put it than to say I was just absolutely and utterly LOST!

I wanted to put this book down and just give up on it. But I thought maybe I was just having a difficult
Gisela Valdera
May 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
I tried to ignore the fact that James Franco wrote this when I picked it up as I am not his biggest fan and I didn’t want that to cloud my judgement.

Spoilers: it didn’t work. Since all the poems are about him and his Hollywood persona, it's pretty hard to ignore who wrote them, not to mention all the poems are that self-aware brand of weird that is so quintessential James Franco TM. Nevertheless, once I was absorbed in the reading -- which happened pretty quickly during a 10 hour bus trip in the
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
James Franco has written a book full of poems, mainly about himself and his life. The poetry varies from the imagistic to the prosaic. They delve into issues of identity, sexuality, private and public life, being a brother, a son, an artist and actor.

I never read poems, and when I saw this on Netgalley I thought it would be a good idea to try and see if I could appreciate it. James Franco was the main reasons I gave it a try, obviously. I know he can be funny, smart and artistic. So that is what
Sha'Tisha Young
May 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
This was the actual worst, in terms of writing style and content. The egotistical and at times creepy poetry/prose left me cringing at every turn. What's worse is that there ARE poems that are interesting, if not fake deep, but that there is so much stupid stuff in between that you forget it's there. I sincerely believe this was only published because he's famous and trying to make a profit off of be edgy and fake gay.
Dimphy van Genderen
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Straight James/Gay James James Franco addresses not only his own struggles with his sexuality and gender, but also his struggles with the public eye.

A really quick read, memorable, and I as soon as I finished I read it again. I don't recognise myself in it, but I don't need to to fully enjoy the experience.

I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Feb 09, 2016 rated it did not like it
Pretty sure if he wasn't famous this book would never have been published. It's interesting, I suppose. But it's not good... or relatable... or poetic... It's kind of like the ranty poetry I wrote as a disgruntled teen. I don't often give bad book reviews, because I think it's pretty personal... but I can't really say anything good about this one...
Apr 05, 2016 marked it as uhh-no
NO. This guy is a whack job. JUST NO. NO. NO


This is available on NetGalley for anyone to read (no requests needed).

Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic Franco

If you're a fan of James and you know his work, and not just the bogus media portrayal then you'll enjoy his poems. Poetry should be enjoyed, thanks James for the quick read.
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked it. It was all over the place and real and raw and honest and I liked it a lot.
Shelley Whitaker
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
...our world is dying:
1984, Blade Runner,
Armageddon, The Road.
I've yet to read a book,
Or watch a film about a future
I'd like to live in.
Fortunately for me,
I'll die before the Earth

...Even more. I love your woman body
I love your woman mind,
Your woman face that is delicate,
...I love the shapely parts,
...I love the woman desires,
The love, the strength, the connection
...The man is angry, the man
Is destructive, the man wants more.
The woman is more, the woman is all.
Queen Spades
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: royally-favored
This title was provided through the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

If it had to sum up this collection in one phrase, it’s the excavation of self with absolutely no filter, a connectivity balanced between shock value and the eclectic.

The metaphors Franco uses in “Mask” is synonymous of the different roles one has to play in Hollywood—the public persona vs. the private and accuracy is somewhere in the middle.

“Gucci Book of the Dead” satisfied my appetite for the
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley

That’s my reaction to this book of “poems.” I say “poems” in quotes because a lot of the poems feel like prose to me, and then there’s the interview with himself.. where he answers some of the questions with poems. Ummm. I received this book via NetGalley and chose it because it looked intriguing.. and strange.

Some of it seems a bit overwrought and bombastic, but hey, what else should we expect from James Franco? After finishing, I found myself feeling just as ambivalent about him as
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Straight James/Gay James is the latest book of poetry by James Franco. In the book, Franco writes a number of poems that center on the idea of identity, sexuality and public persona.

If you can separate the art from the artist to read this (which is often difficult to do) it is an interesting look at identity, how one creates their identities and how the outside world perceives them. Everybody juggles with a few identities in their lives, whether that's labels imposed on them (brother, sister,
Renny Barcelos
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I cannot praise this book enough. I was already a fan of James Franco as a brilliant actor and director but now I know what a stunning wordsmith he also is.

The poems, essays, articles within these pages are raw, deep, inimitable. They'll cut through your soul without asking for permission and after that you will still thank them for it. James Franco's writing touched me with the same fury and force as some renowned late poets did. I won't name names to avoid comparisons because Franco's work is
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am ridiculously in love with James Franco's mind. I think he is a very intelligent and creative guy and I find anything that he does to be interesting. In saying that, it doesn't have to mean I like everything he does. My biggest issue with this book is that for some reason it's classed as a poetry book. It's not. While some of the works could be classed as poetic, it's more of a work of meandering, interesting thoughts from an artist. I felt its biggest weakness came when it felt like you ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
A very brief glimpse into the actor's mind... or at least what he wants you to see. Poetry is an outlet for him to explore things in a different way and to put himself out there in a vulnerable space. I've seen a lot of negative comments about the quality of the poems, but I appreciate the fact that he's writing it and putting himself (and poetry) out there for a wider range of readers.

I think the idea appropriation of queer culture for art is interesting, and I wonder if there will be backlash
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you are familiar with and fascinated by James Franco-- artist and persona-- I think you'll love this book. Expect the unexpected. This chapbook gives a unique and eye-opening look into Franco's mind. What's Real or Fake? That is the question he asks, and quite possibly answers here.

At 60 pages, it's a short read, in the end this collection makes complete sense as a serious work. Pieces of a puzzle and contradicting glimpses of Franco the chameleon who refuses to be pigeonholed
by description.
Lisa Boyd
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Okay, so other than this having pictures of James Franco, I am not really sure why I chose this book to review. Please take my review with knowing that I am not a usually reader of poetry.

I thought that this book was okay and that there were a coupe of charming entries. It was only 60 pages long but it took me a while to read since this is not a genre I enjoy or usually read. This book did succeed in getting me to read a whole book of poetry so perhaps it did its job well.

I received a free
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review

well, I am not entirely sure what I just read. I feel like that was a standard of poetry writing I used to have myself when I was a teenager.... The main reason it gets 2 stars is because I found it so ridiculous that it became funny in places.

I feel like that was a teenagers diary that I just snooped in. I think this is only for fans of James Franco. Unless there is some big deeper meaning hidden underneath all that? If it's
Jason Stanley
Jan 09, 2016 rated it liked it
When I saw this collection of poetry from James Franco available on NetGalley, I was intrigued. I read it while flying. Franco explores various themes in these poems and essays. Mainly, he explores identity. Whether it is own identity as an actor, a brother, or an individual (would the real James Franco stand up?) or the identity of a city - Los Angeles. He muses about films he has worked on - likely excerpts taken from a journal. He is, as best as we can tell, himself, or at least the himself ...more
Apr 07, 2016 rated it liked it
I received a free ARC copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

First I feel like I should state that I don't really know how to review poetry, I love poetry and I can tell you if I like it or not, and why, but as far as what a poem "should" be, I have no idea. Furthermore I also have basically no idea who James Franco is (although I supposed I got a somewhat better understanding after reading this), whether or not this impacted my opinion of this chapbook I can’t say,
Jessica Dunkle
Apr 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Okay so I wasn't expecting anything profound from James Franco, I was thinking it would be more of a comedic book than anything. I was pleasantly surprised in the fact that there were some good lines throughout this poetry, and that it read a bit deeper than I was expecting. Not all of the poems were great, and I didn't particularly enjoy the namesake poem, but all around it was an enjoyable, quick read.

- I received a copy for free from NetGalley for my honest opinion and review.
Tanya Petrova
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm still not sure if Franco's poetry is not some kind of queer-bating/money-generating/self-adoring game, but some of the poems in this collection are .45 shots in the head. They are simple, written to be easily accessible, relatable and understood, yet not lacking in thought-provoking and deeply emotional imagery. This book is an ultimate gateway into poetry, a welcome attempt to bring it back into popular culture.
I bleeding LOVED it!
Elliot Riley
Apr 01, 2016 rated it did not like it

I received an advanced reader copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Since this review, if anything, will be read by my friends, I don't think I need to explain the one star as much as I need to explain why I bothered reading this in the first place. I've been seeing the above sentence all over Goodreads: "I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review," and I thought, what is this Netgalley? How can I get books in exchange for reviews? So I signed up and at the
Jun 27, 2016 rated it liked it
I met James Franco yesterday at The Strand Bookstore in NYC and got this booked signed by him!!! (I somehow managed not to faint or throw up on him) I was a little apprehensive at first because I don't really read poetry in general. Turns out I really enjoyed it!!! I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan. It was short and sweet and gives you a quick peak into the mind that is Mr. Franco.
Dani Robinson
May 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
I received a free review copy from Netgalley

All I can say is: What the heck?

I enjoyed the couple poems about his brothers. But the rest was just weird. The poem about Dumbo was funny. But yeah weirdness. I like James Franco in movies, but as I have gathered from this book he plays different versions of himself in his work and his life. I guess I find this version strange and unusual.
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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
“The man is angry, the man
Is destructive, the man wants more.
The woman is more, the woman is all.”
More quotes…