In the midst of the Cold War, war in Vietnam, race riots in New York City, and a turning point in American culture between "Leave It to Beaver" and Woodstock, Jim Carroll began writing his "basketball diaries" at the age of 12. He's an all-city basketball star at an ivy league prep school leading a double life, experimenting with drugs, getting hooked, hustling gay men to support what will become an epic heroin addiction, and . . . becoming a poet. This is an incredibly funny book as well as a remarkable document of a key period in American culture -- but read it for the language! Even better, read it and then listen to the audio book read by Carroll.
This report prepared by Cassie Carter
It is 1964 in New York City's Lower East Side of Manhattan. Jim Carroll, the teenage diarist, records his games as a basketball star in his diaries. Something happens to him,
and he mistakes the fact (as he explains to his mother)
that it's actually heroin you can get addicted to, not marijuana. So he causally
begins to skin-pop heroin, then inject it directly into his veins with a needle. He is
laughing at that old junkie phrase about the monkey being on his back. But
it is no laugh to him when he runs out, and gets the skin creeps, and the fever,
and the chills. His addiction increases, and Jim, while he stills attends high school,
and high school games, increasingly turns to the underground life. He supports his
habit by selling his body to gay men, calling it "perversion for profit". Eventually, he
lands in Rikers, a prison, for a month. But this does not reform him, and in the end,
he's on the nod, "looking for something pure".
This report prepared by Joan Clare