Tag Archives: James Franco

James Franco Reveals How He Was Introduced to the Beats

11 Dec

I was just thinking the other day that it had been a long time since I’d heard about James Franco. I’m serious! It seemed like a year or two ago James Franco was omnipresent. There’s James Franco sleeping in class at Columbia! There’s James Franco explaining it wasn’t technically class! There’s James Franco playing with a cat! There’s James Franco’s book! There’s James Franco teaching at NYU! There’s–well, you get the idea.

And then nothing.

I don’t know why, but I suddenly missed hearing about James Franco. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were both getting our MFAs. Or maybe it had to do with the fact that I thought his portrayal of Allen Ginsberg in Howl was authentic.

Well, wouldn’t you know it: today I stumbled upon The Los Angeles Review of Books‘ recent interview with James Franco. In the article, Franco discusses poetry, writing, and filmmaking. He talks about William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, Allen Ginsberg, Frank Bidart, and his writer mother. He also says that even though he portrayed Allen Ginsberg in Howl it was another author who inspired his foray into Beat literature:

Kerouac came first. On the Road was my introduction to the Beats, but “Howl” was my introduction to poetry. I studied Williams in school, but I didn’t really study him as a craftsman until later, when I went to the writing program at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina.

He also reveals that he’s studying Beat literature with Amy Hungerford, who has written about Ginsberg’s supernatural language, in his PhD program at Yale.

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The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

21 Nov

I am so excited to have been tagged by Maria Karamitsos for the The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.  Even though I’m not a mother, I love reading Maria’s blog From the Mommy Files, which is full of humor and light.  She has the gift of storytelling.  Her blog entries read like snippets of a novel-like memoir, with dialogue, reflection, and a strong voice, despite the fact that much of her writing is focused on what could be a very technical topic: molar pregnancy.  Take for instance, her post “The Influence of the Lost Child,” in which she talks to her two adorable little girls—”BooBoo BeDoux” and “Bebs LaRoux”—about the baby she miscarried.  It’s a difficult and heartbreaking subject, yet she injects humor in it through the personalities of her daughters (“it’s tough to be 3, after all!”) as well as tenderness and faith.  I’m really excited about the book she’s writing called Positive About Negative: Adventures in Molar Pregnancy.  Maria also tagged some other Greek authors for the Blog Hop, and it’s great discovering all these writers.

I’m tempted therefore to write about my memoir about being Greek American, but since my book on Jack Kerouac is coming out first my answers to the Blog Hop questions are about that book.

What is the working title of your book?  Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Where did the idea come from for the book?  Paul Maher Jr. had written a book entitled Jack Kerouac’s American Journey: The Real-Life Odyssey of “On the Road” for the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Kerouac’s seminal work.  I had read this book one summer and some months later began reading Paul’s blog.  We began talking and decided to revise and expand his book because we knew that a film adaptation of On the Road was coming out and we wanted to provide a resource for those interested in finding out more about this famous novel.  It was important to us that the book had a strong narrative, contextual information, and new research because we wanted both the teenager turned on from the film and the literary scholar who’s read every book by Kerouac to enjoy it and find value in it.

What genre does your book fall under?  It’s literary criticism and biography.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Isn’t that the million dollar question?  There’s been a lot of talk over the years about who should play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty in the film adaptation of On the Road.  Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Colin Farrell, Marlon Brando, you name it, they’ve been associated with it.  I almost never go to the movies and don’t really know the young actors of today well enough to say who would be age appropriate to cast.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt?  Zac Efron?  These actors are too old to play the roles now but if I were casting the film back when I first read On the Road as a teenager, this is who I’d pick:

  • Sal Paradise — Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke would be excellent choices for Sal Paradise, particularly because they both have a deep appreciation for literature.  Depp is a known Kerouac fan and just started his own publishing imprint, and Hawke is a published author.
  • Dean Moriarty — Woody Harrelson would make a great Dean Moriarty.  He can play both earnest and wild so well!  Matthew McConaughey would be great as Dean too.
  • Carlo Marx — I loved James Franco’s portrayal of Allen Ginsberg in Howl, but if I had to select someone else I might go with Adam Goldberg.
  • Old Bull Lee — The choice of Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee for the Walter Salles film is brilliant, but again if I had to choose someone else maybe I’d with Ewan McGregor.
  • Marylou — Drew Barrymore would be so much fun to watch as Marylou.  Do you remember her in Mad Love and Boys on the SideAlmost Famous hadn’t been made yet when I was a teenager but Kate Hudson (think Penny Lane) would be my runner-up pick.

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  Burning Furiously Beautiful tells the true story of  Jack Kerouac travels on the road and how it took him years, not weeks, to write On the Road.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  We decided to self-publish Burning Furiously Beautiful.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  The first draft, so to speak, had already been written and published as Jack Kerouac’s American Journey.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  There have been so many biographies of Kerouac written over the years, and each offers its own perspective.  Burning Furiously Beautiful uses Kerouac’s journals and letters, as well as archival material from other people who knew Kerouac during the time he was on the road and writing On the Road, to tell a the specific story of the making of a novel that continues to generate interest today.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  Obviously, Paul Maher Jr. inspired Burning Furiously Beautiful as it was his original idea.  I, however, had been researching and writing about Kerouac since I was an undergrad many years prior to this and brought my own knowledge and skills to the project.  I was very much inspired by the fact that the film adaptation is soon to be released here in the States.  There’s a whole new generation coming to Kerouac’s literature, which is immensely exciting to me.  Reading Kerouac when I was in high school opened up so many possibilities for me as a reader and writer.  I hope that the film will pique people’s interest so that they’ll go back and read Kerouac’s books for themselves—not just On the Road  but his other great works as well—and that they’ll watch Pull My Daisy, the film that Kerouac himself spontaneously narrated.  Burning Furiously Beautiful is important because it contextualizes On the Road and provides a fascinating look at Kerouac’s life and writing process.  This is critical because there’s so much myth surrounding Kerouac and the 1950s.  I became engrossed in odd little details like the fact that the Kerouac’s didn’t have a phone and took their calls at the store below their apartment in Queens.  It’s so different than today when it seems like every middle schooler has a cell phone.  If Cassady could’ve just called Kerouac up on his iphone, he might not have written the infamous Joan Anderson letter that spurred on Kerouac’s writing style.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Burning Furiously Beautiful is a great book for an aspiring writer, regardless of whether or not you like Kerouac’s writing style.  It’s a portrait of a young writer and details how his writing voice developed (his first book has a much different style), what his writing routine was, the editing process (yes, there was one!), what his relationship with other writers and editors was like (imagine lots of parties), and the many false starts he had in writing his book.  We even talk about book signings, contracts, and press interviews.  Sometimes I’ve felt frustrated with various writing projects of mine, but realizing that Kerouac, who purported to have written On the Road in only three weeks, went through some of the same struggles and took years to find success makes me realize that it’s all part of the writing process.

I tag:

Emily Timbol

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Larry Shallenberger 

Michael D. Bobo

Check them out!  They’re each really different from each other.

From the Lost Generation to the Beat Generation: Hollywood’s Obsession

12 Jul

 

 

With Hemingway and Gellhorn currently on HBO and a remake of The Great Gatsby heading to theatres this Christmas, The Observer’s Daniel D’Addario ponders if we’re experiencing a “Lost Generation Boom.”

The Lost Generation refers to the writers during the World War I era, many of whom became expatriates.  The Lost Generation writers include F. Scott Fitzgerald, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and John Dos Passos, among others.  Hemingway popularized the term in A Moveable Feast, in which he quoted Stein as telling him a story about a man who said, “That’s what you all are … all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.”

D’Addario also references last summer’s Midnight in Paris, but in some regard, we’ve been experiencing the “boom” for quite some time now … at least in the cocktail scene.  A few years ago, speakeasy-type bars became all the rage here in New York.  Dimly lit lounges served up spiked punches in tea cups.  There are also Jazz Age parties on Governor’s Island, where everyone gets all dolled up in fantastic flapper dresses and Sacque suits.  And the Oak Room—which in the ‘20s was Algonquin’s Pergola Room—just reopened.

However, Hollywood isn’t only obsessed with the Lost Generation.  The Beat Generation, which wasn’t popular for a long time, is beginning to see a revival.  On the Road, based on Beat writer Jack Kerouac’s novel, just premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May and will be released Stateside sometime later this year.  Next year, Kill Your Darlings, about a murder involving Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and others associated with the Beat Generation, will be released.  In 2010, Howl, based on Allen Ginsberg’s poem and the trial that followed its publication, came out.  These aren’t small movies by any means.  Howl starred it-boy James Franco, Kill Your Darlings will star Daniel Radcliffe, and much has been made of On the Road starring Kristen Stewart.

Perhaps we’re trying to figure out our own generation by looking at those in the past.

Happy 86th Birthday, Allen Ginsberg!

3 Jun


 

“Poetry is not an expression of the party line.

It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.”

~Allen Ginsberg

 

Today would’ve been Allen Ginsberg’s 86th birthday.  In celebration, here are a couple of links:::

2012 Howl Festival

Howl (the film starring James Franco); clip of the section on how to write poetry

Allen Ginsberg reading part 1 of Howl

The flowering dogwood at St. Mark’s is blooming for Ginsberg’s birthday

“when did you forget you were a flower?” ~ Sunflower Sutra (one of my favorite poems — It’s beautiful. It’s true. It makes me tear up.)

Ginsberg’s Karma (documentary on Ginsberg’s time in India; produced by Ram Devineni and hosted by Bob Holman)

Ginsberg’s photography

Vomit Express (Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan)

Howl on the list of banned books

Ginsberg’s hometown of Paterson, NJ

Captain America and Harry Potter Will Kill Your Darlings

12 Dec

I can picture Captain America as Jack Kerouac.  On the Road pretty much defines the phrase “great American novel” so we might as well call Kerouac Captain America.  And there’s also the matter that Kerouac was a rugged athlete type.

I’m not sure what to make of Harry Potter as Allen Ginsberg, though.  I mean, I kind of get the similarity between the two in the sense that of the nerdy boy with the glasses and books.  And maybe there’s some sort of correlation between Harry Potter’s incantations and Allen Ginsberg’s manic howling.

It’s just that James Franco did such an amazing job as Allen Ginsberg in Howl.  He completely exceeded my expectations.  And Daniel Radcliffe just seems so … young.  But he does like The Hold Steady, who’ve been known to quote Kerouac.  Maybe he can pull it off.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Chris Evans was cast as Jack Kerouac and Daniel Radcliffe was cast as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings.

Follow Friday: Beat Generation Edition

22 Jul

Saw James Franco in Howl at the Angelika: amazing.  Now you can watch it for free on Hulu.

Replace “Moloch” with “Murdoch” in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and this is what you get

John Allen Cassady reveals why even though he’s named after Jack Kerouac (and Allen Ginsberg) he’s named John

The Bowery Poetry Club is hosting a Diane Di Prima film screening on August 7

The Beat Museum is blogging for HuffPo

Anyone get the Penguin On the Road app for iPad?  Company loyalty means I have a Nook.

Wishing I was still living in LA County so I could see the Ed Ruscha and Jack Kerouac exhibit at the Hammer Museum