James Franco’s Summer Reading List Is Glaringly Male-Centric

rexusa_2068625yPhoto: REX USA/Picture Perfect.
James Franco is in need of some major horizon expansion, pronto.
In April, we told you about the artiste's favorite authors, and how decidedly one-sided they were. "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," read a list of his top scribes. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to notice that women authors were noticeably absent.
Even though we recommended five supremely talented lady scribes for Franco to read in the vein of Franco, he's still digging his mostly white, all male audience. Franco continued using Vice as his online mouthpiece today, when he released his guide to summer reading. Once again, it was heavy on the testosterone, and didn't include one person who wasn't white. (His last list, at least, included Cervantes and Borges.)
"All of these books have left their stamps on my memory," Franco writes. "There was the summer I read Moby-Dick, and the summer I read Moby-Dick again…I hope to pass on some books that might make a few marks on your own soul."
Needless to say, Herman Melville's classic made the list, as did Michael Chabon's Kavalier & Clay, Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Steve Erickson's Zeroville, and Andrew Solomon's Far From The Tree among others. All good choices, to be sure. But, where are the women? Where is one person of color? (Also present: Franco/Vice's decision to paste his own face on top of Oprah's, which a cultural studies professor would have a field day unpacking. Of course, this is a total Franco-esque joke, but coupled with the list and the heavy presence of white dude writers, it's a little awkward.)
Having spent countless evenings arguing the place of women in the annals of history (and not just Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which is the inevitable retort), it's a bummer that one of our most prominent stars-who-love-literature is all male, all white, all the time. Not to suggest we all need to rage against the Franco-machine, but it's worth pointing out the glaring omissions.
We gained major respect for Franco when he recently hand-picked the previously unknown Gia Coppola to direct the adaptation of his book Palo Alto. Let's just hope when the next James Franco-curated reading list inevitably pops up online, he thinks outside of the box and the assumption that the Great American Authors are all white males. (Vice)
franco-book-clubPhoto: Via Vice.

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