January 4th, 2012 / 5:00 pm

New Year Roundup

We’ll get started with the Literary Magazine Club of discussion of Versal on January 9th. Details, here, if you’re playing along. If you want to write something about Versal, and I hope you do, please get in touch with me at roxane at htmlgiant.com. There’s a lot to talk about. For starters, what do you think about the cover?

Over at the Paris Review blog which is always entertaining, Jason Diamond writes about, among other things, “books as objects of design in clothing stores.”

The Millions has a useful list of books we can look forward to in 2012.

James Franco* sold his novel to Amazon. It’s a scandal! Or something! I mean, he’s what? Congratulations? I don’t know! It’s going to be called Actors Anonymous, and yeah…. I, there are no words. Actually, there are words. I am going to make a plot prediction. Young, “handsome” and intelligent actor named Fames Danco takes Hollywood by storm, makes quirky choices, struggles to remain authentic amidst the hypocrisy of Hollywood. After taking a starring role in a big budget movie, say, Mission Impossible 14, he joins a support group, tongue in cheek, to cope with being torn between fame and being true to himself. In the end, he finds a happy compromise by making great independent film choices that lead to many critical accolades and magazine covers. When he wins his Oscar, he thanks the Academy and the nameless members of Actors Anonymous. He also finds love. I will take bets on the accuracy of my prediction.

At Full Stop, Maud Newton takes on the situation in American writing as part of an ongoing series. As always, she is savvy and insightful.

The Rumpus is starting a print publication, where four times a month, or so, they will send you a letter. I’m excited for this. I may be writing a letter. I love getting postal mail. You should consider subscribing.

A League of Their Own is a classic sports film.

Michiko Kakatuni, Twitter, fake account, this is the future.

This movie poster really exists.

Small towns are losing their post offices and it is a real shame.

*Is anyone else disturbed by the Franco storyline on GH right now?


  1. postitbreakup

      i bet a million retweets that plot summary is dead on

      i like how gary shteyngart (sp?) says “FRANCOooo!!” in his fresh air interview 

      i would only buy the book if it came with getting to fuck james franco. i’d check it out of the library if it at least came with naked pictures. (kidding, i’d just wait for someone to upload them to gawker)

      i’m more curious how amazon is going to work as a publishing house. (and netflix as a production studio, for that matter.) all these distributors starting to make their own content.

      i wish that movie poster weren’t so racist because i really like how psychedelic it looks

  2. Shannon

      postitbreakup, if that book came with that deal I’d buy it too.

      I can’t think of anything else, that movie poster is eating my brain. 

      I…um. Wow. I can’t be angry I just want to stare at it and be disturbed.

  3. Bobby Dixon

      Thanks, RG. I like the LMC and am glad you are keeping it going. 

      Re James Franco; why are we obsessed w/ him? I’m not saying I’m not guilty, I just blogged a few hundred words about him two days ago in what I hope to be a multi-part blog series. There is a lot to hate, and a lot to admire. It’s like he’s a real person in the real world doing real things. I don’t even want to fuck him, but cannot deny that there is a nugget’s worth of brain matter going, let’s think about James Franco a little more.

  4. Roxane

      Are we obsessed with him? I don’t know. We talk about him because he is often doing things that inspire conversation. For one, he is on my beloved General Hospital and that’s weird because the storyline is terrible and disturbing but also awesome. Acting in a soap opera is an unexpected choice from an actor who generally does more indie-flavored movies. He apparently loves school and that’s interesting because he’s enrolled in like three places at once and falling asleep in class and getting degrees and phone conferencing with teachers. These things are somehow intriguing when done by an actor because we live in a culture where celebrity makes someone infinitely more interesting. He published a book with a major publisher that would not have been published were he not a famous actor and some writers really resent that so that’s something to talk about. Palo Alto is not a good book so when you see people who you think have good taste praising the book, it’s confusing so talking about the confusion, and the badness of the book is also useful. Some people find him attractive and think he’s a good actor so they talk about that. In conclusion, in an age where a Kardashian can be a celebrity, Franco offers more to talk about then most of the people on the glossy pages of gossip magazines because he’s always doing something relatively interesting or unexpected given our generally low expectations of celebrities. 

  5. Bobby Dixon

      He should be the avatar of HTMLGiant. 

  6. Matthew Simmons

      For the record: I fell asleep in class a couple of times.

  7. Roxane

      It’s a rite of passage. Fortunately for most of us, the picture won’t end up in People.

  8. Adam Robinson

      Judging by these links, it’s going to be a weird year.

  9. Jonathan Safran Foer

      I agree. It’s the behavior of others — those we once looked up to — who croon Franco’s praises in exchange for HBO pilots and crumbs of funding that make Franco’s success so unappealing. Goes double for art and academia as well. Franco is exploiting the people who should be sneering at him. And they call ME kitsch

  10. ryder collins

      Mama finds it funny that Marie Calloway has been dismissed for her narcissism, here at HTMLGiants & elsewhere, while good old Franco is pretty much praised for it on Slate (” O’Neal (and he’s not alone) presents this as evidence of Franco’s narcissism—as if much of the world’s great fiction isn’t based on the lives of its authors”) and here at HTMLGiant he’s praised for being a celebrity/falling-asleep student, or at least he’s “interesting” and something to talk about. The phenomenon that is Franco is “interesting,” whereas Calloway is “narcissistic.” If rumors are true, Franco’s caused one NYU professor to lose his job; that’s more life-wrecking than divulging an affair, mama thinks… 

      Not to bring up non-controversies, but I find Franco’s exploitation of the university system much more offensive than Calloway’s story/blog post.

  11. Roxane

      Eh, most people here, myself included, are pretty open with their disdain for Franco. As someone who teaches at a university, I am comfortable saying the chances of Franco getting a professor fired are somewhere between slim and none. The rumor is ridiculous, at best. On a logistical level, it doesn’t work like that. Furthermore, Franco just doesn’t have the star power to get someone at NYU fired. Tom Hanks could, though.

  12. mimi

      yeah, but franco was in Milk AND Pineapple Express  

      i for one am a francophile  

      he’s lovable and funny  

  13. Brooks Sterritt

      Fames Danco made me lol. That Millions list is great, but What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: those titles need to stop/THEY DIDN’T MENTION JOYCE CAROL OATES’S FORTHCOMING ONE. I’m also trying not to reflexively bash Franzen but I hope his essay collection has one about his childhood because it’s funny to picture a little Franzen running around in tortoise shell glasses and short pants.

  14. deadgod

      I heard Hanks paid for Summers’s cab ride to the airport.

  15. MamaDon'tKnow

      Uh….Mama obviously hasn’t read this blog closely enough, or all the reviews that trashed Franco’s book. 

  16. ryder collins

      Roxane, I also teach at a university and your easy dismissal of this rumor is somewhat problematic. Universities are corruptible, just like any system or institution… Furthermore, I was discussing the rhetoric of your post and comments here about Franco’s being “interesting” because he is a celebrity vis a vis your post about Calloway, who, like Franco, is young, attractive, and trying to make a name for herself as a writer. They both could be seen as exploiting people (professors and other students in Franco’s case) to get their “names” out there. Maybe Franco’s case is different because he’s actively seeking (or somewhat passively, if he’s sleeping through classes) credibility through the university system. However, your reaction to Franco’s behavior has a “boys will be boys” feel to it whereas “the price of revelation” seemed much more condemnatory. You probably have taught comp at your university, perhaps you should compare your tone/rhetoric in the two pieces (this and the one about Calloway); it may reveal to you the internalization of negative narratives about femininity. But, perhaps not, perhaps mama’s comparing apples and oranges, yo. Mama didn’t mean to get all heavy. Love, mama.

  17. Nick Moran

      Agree x a million about that stupid title convention.

  18. ryder collins

      Mama don’t know much but she knows she loves you & that may be all she needs to know.

  19. Roxane

      I’m well aware universities are corruptible. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. The rumor just seems facile. I honestly don’t give a damn. I do think it is ludicrous to compare Franco to Calloway. There is nothing remotely similar between the two. I don’t care for Franco at all. Someone asked why we talk about him and I made some guesses using the proverbial “we”. How are you going to correlate Calloway’s revelation which she now  admits was wrong and some actor taking college classes? I have no problem with Calloway writing about sexuality or her subjectivity or whatever the fuck. I don’t… really care. The only thing that has ever interested me in this affair is the ethical question. If James Franco fucked a man in a relationship and disclosed that information in a blog post and then took that post down and changed the man’s name and called it a story and published it in a magazine, I’d ask the exact same ethical question of him, mama. 

  20. ryder collins

      & I kinda find the family values hand-wringing – the girlfriend, the girlfriend – way you posed your ethical question ludicrous. Your ethical question reeks to me of trying too hard for gravitas… But, mama’s not gonna get in a pissing match here with you cos a) I’ve got the tits to admit I don’t like Calloway’s story, not that I just don’t “get” the style, b) I shoulda posted my opinions about your Calloway post much earlier, and for this I apologize, and c) mama knows her place in the liternets hierarchy. 

  21. Roxane

      Your opinion is noted though I would disagree that I was trying to create gravitas. And family values? Hardly. I am sincerely interested in the question of the limits of confession when we write from our personal lives and I think it’s very valid question. However, saying I don’t get it is not code for I don’t like the story. I mean what I say. I don’t get the style of writing at all. In terms of the literary merit I’m simply not interested in discussing it because either you feel the story is good or you don’t and I don’t think this is one of those stories where people are to be willing to see the other side. I’m not going to get into the debate. I don’t care. I am pretty sure that my opinion on Calloway story is crystal clear. As far as the Internet hierarchy give me a damn break. This is the Internet and your places where ever you want it to be.

  22. Mama'sFamilyVintonHarper

      Do you think referring to yourself in the third-person–“mama”–will make people want to read your book? Because, honestly, it’s annoying and trying way too hard to be “different.”