James Franco Should Read More Female Authors — Here's A Start

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James Franco, like many literate humans, enjoys books. Problem is, it appears that he only likes books by men. In an interview with Shelf Awareness, Franco name-checked Cormac McCarthy, Frank Bidart, Tony Hoagland, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Herman Melville, Miguel de Cervantes, Jorge Luis Borges, Vladimir Nabokov, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver as his top 11 favorite authors.

Fine authors, all of them. But, all of them also happen to have penises. The other 51% of the world wasn't represented on Franco's list, with the exception of Madonna's Sex book, which he said he "bought for the cover." He also admitted to faking his way through reading Infinite Jest. (Who does that? Wouldn't you reserve the fake read for, like, Ulysses?)

Still, we think that Franco should take the time to put at least one woman on his reading list. Here are a few suggestions from a list of amazing female authors that's far, far too long to be compiled here:

Doris Lessing
The recently deceased British novelist penned her 1962 opus The Golden Notebook about a writer who attempts to record various aspects of her life — historical, romantic, political — and weave them together into one story. If Franco couldn't get through Infinite Jest, this might not be the novel for him, but he'd surely appreciate Lessing's David Foster Wallace-like narrative hopscotch.

Patricia Highsmith
If Franco likes the creepy postwar suburbias and WASPy characters of questionable morals cooked up by John Cheever, he'll dig Patrica Highsmith's psychological thrillers. She was, after all, responsible for Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, but her second (and pseudonymously published) novel, The Price of Salt is her hidden gem.

Kathy Acker
Kathy Acker styled herself as a literary pirate — lifting words from the works of famous male authors and appropriating them for her own use in her experimental novels, which are infused with sex and punk bravura. If Franco likes William S. Burroughs, he'll love Acker's collage technique.

Toni Morrison
Take Borges' magical realism and blend it into one of the most powerful novels about love and slavery that's ever been written, and you'll have Beloved. Sure, Franco probably read it in high school or at Tisch, but it still deserves a mention.

Mary Gaitskill
Two words: Bad Behavior. Gaitskill's debut short story collection is full of sex, drugs, and debauchery, but not in some macho, romanticized way. Instead, they'll give Franco nightmares.

(Shelf Awareness)