Read The Basketball diaries by Jim Carroll Free Online
Book Title: The Basketball diaries|
The author of the book: Jim Carroll
Edition: Bantam Books
Date of issue: February 1980
ISBN 13: 9780553133066
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.88 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.8
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Before there was a “cop on every corner” in New York, there were some of the most interesting characters frolicking around, bounding up and down the streets as if they were players in a real-life version of a very fucked up Wonderland. Pimps and prostitutes and transvestites and junkies and businessmen and children and you-name-it all blended together and somehow figured out a way to live a somewhat harmonious existence in this concrete jungle.
This was the land of Jim Carrol. And it was in this land that Carrol wrote THE BASKETBALL DIARIES.
It was within this surreal playground that a fourteen year old basketball phenom decided to record his thoughts as his life slowly unraveled because of heroin.
The diaries start in the fall of ’63. JFK is not yet dead. Nuclear holocaust is on everyone’s minds. But to Jim Carrol the only pressing matter is basketball and girls. As a white kid, Carrol is an unusual basketball standout in New York City. He is rated as one of the top twenty prep players in the nation…the world is his oyster. Then, Carrol experiences his first big party. Girls and drugs abound. His life has entered into a phase were the inhabitants of Sodom might be jealous. It is also during this time that Carrol finds his voice. The entries during this time are slowly built upon, giving the reader a unique insight into the vast array of New York City.
However, it also during this time that I have to question the veracity of some of Carrol’s adventures. I’m not going to say they never happened. But, I will be skeptical of how they happened. You see, to me, a diary is only the rebirth of previous memories. Sometimes these memories are shrouded in the fog of time; sometimes these memories have been tinkered with and are no longer a memory of what happened as they are a memory of what has been reconstructed. Regardless, Carrol’s memories of this time evoke a sense of innocence that is about to be corrupted in a manner that can never be uncorrupted.
As the diary progresses, Carrol begins to flirt more and more with H. Never buying at first, only using when others around him supply the deadly euphoric, Carrol begins a dance that starts off as a waltz but turns into a frenetic assemblage of hands and feet that no choreographer could put any semblance to. As the diary moves from year to year, Carrol’s decline becomes obvious as his basketball status slowly loses its luster. Folks know he has game, but they never know exactly what game is going to show up at any given time.
Besides the decline of his basketball prowess, Carrol notes, often in a sideway glance, what is happening in his beloved New York. It is within these segments that Carrol shines. As Carrol recounts how his relationship with his father is tenuous at best, the reader is given a sneak peak into the psyche of a child that only wants approval of the man he knows will never accept him. And as Carrol lets his hair grow long, and begins to travel with less-than-desirables, a war rages in a small country named Vietnam. To Carrol, this war is never a prominent fixture in his life, but to New Yorkers, who were constantly living in fear that the Russians would use this war as a way to attack the US, fear permeates through the streets. Kids, especially kids with long hair, are looked upon with disdain. War protestors were looked upon as if they were spies or insurgents. Sadly, during this time, Carrol was fighting this war; he just didn’t know that his battles came in the form of H and basketball and family.
When the diaries conclude, some three-and-a-half years later, Carrol is a shell of the person he could have become. But he is also so much more of what the man he is about to become. Let me explain. As his H problem increased, his basketball abilities decreased to a point where he was no longer looked upon in awe. But, also, as his H addiction increased, his will to adequately convey his journey through thoughts and images and words increased, too. Carroll remarks about this strange change, describing it as though he needs to write just as much as he needs to find where his next score is coming from.
THE BASKETBALL DIARIES takes Carrol from Harlem to Manhattan to Riker’s Island and everywhere in between. This is so much more than a story about being a junky or a disenchanted street kid from New York; this is a story about loss and real-life, about hope and the everlasting truth that hope is sometimes only found in the minds of those that are still crazy enough to believe in it; it is about finding the apparition of happiness within a world of phantoms.
Woefully, it is about knowing that life is not all about happy endings.
And as I sit here and type this review, I am still contemplating the last sentence of his diary. What does it mean? Was it his last confession? Did he know that his life was only going to get darker and decide that the reader was no longer invited on his journey? It was written in the summer of ’66 after Carrol had lost almost everything. “I just want to be pure…” he says.
What an incredibly haunting admission.
All I can say is: Don’t we all?
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Read information about the authorJames Dennis "Jim" Carroll was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.
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