“It is said that the camera cannot lie, but rarely do we allow it to do anything else, since the camera sees what you point it at: the camera sees what you want it to see. The language of the camera is the language of our dreams.” –Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work

This is not about satire. This is about visibility.

Years ago my friend Erin and I joked that we should submit some fiction under a boy’s name. Aaron and Carl. A younger professor told us, solemnly, that wasn’t such a bad idea. Neither of us had the guts to do it. But when we started seeing James Franco’s name in magazines, and then saw his book of poetry from Graywolf we joked again: let’s submit some fiction under James Franco’s name and see what happens.

This joking was more out of opportunity than jealousy. In the NY Times Book Review article “James Franco, Poet” David Orr put it this way:

“This book wouldn’t be published by Graywolf (I hope) if James Franco weren’t ‘James Franco.’ For that matter, James Franco wouldn’t be getting reviewed right now if he weren’t ‘James Franco.’ In fact, if James Franco were just another M.F.A. student struggling to catch the attention of the two part time employees of Origami Anthropod Press, he’d probably be reading this piece and fuming about all the attention being given, yet again to James Franco.”

Harsh words, but here’s the opportunity I saw: what if we were all James Franco? How would this affect visibility of typically ignored writers? It could be that certain phrases would have to be questioned, such as this one, which as a former mediocre MFA student I heard more than a dozen times from literary agents and editors: “The great work rises to the surface.”

At the James Franco Review, we don’t know why some stories and poems get published while others don’t, or what it means for something to be right for a magazine.

We seek to publish works of prose and poetry as if we were all James Franco, as if our work was already worthy of an editor’s attention. All submissions received are submitted as James Franco and are read by a roving cast of guest editors who choose based on their tastes as readers.


What we are looking for:

“Create dangerously for those who read dangerously.”—Edwidge Danticat

The story, poem, or essay that you wrote that you believe in the most, or that hasn’t found the right home. We aren’t looking for work that imitates James Franco’s work or satirizes—writers need not be so cruel. Think of this as the open door where who you are, where you studied, where you’ve been published doesn’t matter. If the guest editor likes your piece, they’ll take it, and if they don’t like it remember that it’s subjective and keep writing.

Things The J.F. Review editors are told to consider before they read:

Allow room for what isn’t supposed to happen, characters you don’t always get to see. Be brave. Read dangerously.

We hope you will too.