Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All hail Emperor Franzen

1. James Franco has invested heavily into the Jason Lea Bank of Goodwill. He has ties to Freaks and Geeks and the Spider-Man trilogy, both of which count for something ‘round here. But that doesn’t make him a good author.

I had concerns after reading Franco’s short story in Esquire. Palo Alto, a series of short stories based in a fictional facsimile of Franco’s hometown, is similarly unremarkable, according to PW.

The reviewer said it “reads like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho fell into a Catcher in the Rye remix.”

I’m not sure what that line is supposed to mean, but it elicits an “oh, snap!”

Let me be clear. I haven’t read Palo Alto. But bad review paired with the underwhelming first impression of “Just Before the Black” have quelled any anticipation I might have had for Franco’s fiction.

2. Online Masters compiled the top 40 comic stories to integrate into college curriculums. I love that Ohio natives Brian K. Vaughan (who is misspelled as “Vaughn”), Jeff Smith and Harvey Pekar wrote six of the 40 suggestions.

All the usual suspects — Watchmen, Maus, Sandman — show up, but it’s a pretty good primer for those who don’t care about superheroes but are intrigued by the potential of the medium. Not that the list completely ignores capes, All-Star Superman makes a deserved appearance.

3. Some clever soul has started an @emperorfranzen Twitter feed in the wake of Jonathan Franzen’s Times cover.

Samples: “I see too many self-pub novelists “pushing” their books too hard. Me? I never do publicity. It does me.”

“I love me some marshmallow Peeps. I imagine each one is a chick lit author as I devour them.”

“Writing Tips From the Franz: “Write what you know. You know nothing. So write nothing, and read my books instead.”

4. Dave Eggers and Valentino Achak Deng update us on their school in Sudan.

Speaking of Sudan...

Still speaking of Sudan...

-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com

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