Palo Alto – James Franco

Palo Alto is a novel comprised of short stories from the perspective of suburban American youth, whose paths occasionally overlap. The narrative follows the stories of teenagers with nothing to do and nowhere to go. The characters hold an aimlessness which results in destruction and violence. The novel explores the brutality of boredom and the faithless nature of friendships through parties, alcohol, drugs, violence and sex.

A.J. said, “Come on,” five times in five different ways, like she was teetering on an edge and he was gently trying to blow her over.

As I was reading I felt adolescent again; reckless with impulsive thoughts, roaming the streets at night; fickle in belief and quick to react. My least favourite story was ‘Chinatown in Three Parts’, by this point I was seeing a pattern of female passivity and androcentrism, and was wishing for a different direction to be taken. I found this was a common theme throughout the book.

Overall, I found descriptions of characters were frank and neat. The writing truthfully represented its’ characters and their backgrounds without embellishing with unnecessary information. My opinion continually fluctuated throughout this book, although there wasn’t any point where I was sure I was enjoying the read.

Rating: 5.5/10, primarily for writing style and clever insights written in a blunt and truthful manner.

 I usually just drew the old people’s faces. I would draw life in their eyes even though many go their lights had gone out. I would capture their decaying skin with as much realism as possible. Wrinkles within wrinkles, blotches, hair in wisps. And their necks like fowls’: bone profusion, saggy-soft flesh, goiters.

New Word: None

Keeping? Not Keeping

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Short story


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