James Franco's Esquire Short Story Features a 'Dragon Bong'

You know James Franco is an actor. Maybe you know he is a subversive performance artist. But did you know he is a published fiction writer? Now he is! He just had his first short story published in Esquire.

Yes, James Franco recently completed his MFA in fiction writing at Columbia University. Now he's headed to Yale to pursue a PhD, according to the Yale Herald. But before starting his long journey up the ivory tower, Franco penned a bunch of short stories which will be published in a book called Palo Alto. Palo Alto will be released... er, published by Scribner in October.

Now Esquire has become the first, as far as we can tell, to publish one of Franco's short stories. (Actually, he also had a story in that McSweeney's newspaper. -ed.) It is called "Just Before the Black" and, according to the Daily Beast, it has a 268-word sentence in it! We do not know if this is true because we just searched the story for the word "bong." We found this passage. (Little trick, here: If a piece of literature has the word "bong" in it, you only need to read the pages on which it appears.) If we were giving a reading at a Barnes & Noble, this is where we would say something like, "In this passage the main character is smoking from a bong shaped like a dragon. You don't really need to know anything else:"

We smoke more and we cough every time. I think about the little dragon that the bong is and I so wish that dragons were real, because it would mean that none of this shit was the end of everything, because even if you were high, this world only let you escape a little bit, it let you escape enough that you knew that there could be something better, but it wouldn't let you into that place; like standing on the cloudy threshold of heaven and seeing something so bright and tantalizing and warmy-womby-feeling but not being able to enter, just feeling the heat a little on your face, and you want to cry and smile, but instead you just stare and you can't do anything.

"Hector," I say. I am lying on the altar thing and staring up through one of the willows, whose drooping, arcing branches are like jagged fissures in the sky. Hector is sitting against the base of the willow's trunk. "Would you rather be the pope or Pablo Escobar?"

The pope, definitely. So, is the story "fiercely vivid," which is how Amazon.com describes Palo Alto? The litblog HMTLGIANT says of the story: "If it weren't by James Franco, this 100% would not be in Esquire... Seems like a pretty typical 'MFA story,' if that's even a type of story." Burn? We are not literary critics, so let us just say this: James Franco is such a good actor!