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 Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines—before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say,Look inside.”
Told in a dizzying array of styles—from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes—and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous’s TwelveSteps and Twelve Traditions, Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.
"Subversively funny and provocatively honest,Actors Anonymous is ostensibly about acting but it's really about a society where everyone's reduced to the roles they play. The novel's many narrators fight back against these roles in truly original, often hilarious, and deeply affecting ways. So should we all." –Gary Shteyngart, author ofSuper Sad True Love Story
“Electrifying to see a writer hold nothing back! This shape-shifting narrative extends a reader's sense of what a novel can be, can do. Franco plays with persona in ways that implicate a reader. The defiant humor is hard-won (including the best worst job interview ever), his take on irresponsible people is both eloquent and suitably scorching, the language is enviable: the seduction of a virgin is ‘like a bullet through a birthday cake.’ Franco's novel lures youin with indelible images, provocative mind games, and characters laid bare, then successfully strands you in a frightening place." –Amy Hempel
“James Franco puts on a James Franco mask and borrows formats from AA to create a fiction about the fiction of identity—especially as it pertains to actors and, by logical extension, writers. Is fame (the longing for it, the actuality of it) as entangled in the creative act as alcohol? Is acting (writing) an escape from reality or the only thing that’s real for an actor (writer)? The illusion of reality and the reality of fiction hold hands in this novel in much the way that actors (and writers) steal from their lives to enliven their characters. The novel does not merely explore acting, it enacts it. This is a lively, strange, engaging, often funny, sometimes brilliant, and utterly fearless novel.” –Robert Boswell, author ofTumbledown,The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, andThe Half-Known World
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