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Stop-Time: A Memoir Paperback – February 24, 1977


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (February 24, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140044469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140044461
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone who has even a passing interest in memoir.
Andrew R
A friend gave me this book, telling me it had lasted with him since he'd read it many years ago.
Katharine N. Begien
I believe this is an excellently told life story; a skillfully rendered bit of writing.
S. G. Fortosis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Tyler Smith on March 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Few autobiographies that I have read match the power of this one. It manages to communicate the loneliness and isolation of youth and young adulthood, yet as a commentator on the book has correctly noted, it is free of self-pity or sentimentality.
Like another great coming-of-age memoir, Richard Wright's "Black Boy," Conroy's work is a powerful rebuttal to romantic evocations of childhood. His was a life of rootlessness, occasional random (and inexplicable) violence and long stretches of boredom. Mental illness and instability seemed never to be far from his doorstep.
Conroy doesn't shy away from describing any of this, or the effects that his difficult home life and environment had on him. In a powerful early scene, he describes joining in a boarding school attack on a vulnerable classmate. There are overtones of "Lord of the Flies," but the most effective -- and chilling -- quality of his description of the event is its tone of dispassion. For example, he tells of eagerly awaiting his chance to get a clean, unmolested shot at the kid, but then admits that the actual punch was disappointing, not what he thought it would be. This recitation of events is transmitted to us through the mind of the boy, not as a narrator who looks back, eager for the chance to justify or explain his motivation.
But "Stop-Time" is elevated even further by Conroy's ability to capture moments of childhood magic (even though they are often leavened with disappointment). For example, there is a great chapter on his sudden obsession with learning how to do tricks with a yo-yo; another memorable sequence of scenes describes the uninhibited pleasure of driving bumper cars and partaking of a carnival's tawdry pleasures.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful By "botatoe" on April 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
The memoir has become a particularly prominent literary form in the past decade, often blending fact and fiction in licentious literary exploration. I think, particularly, of Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club" and, more recently, "Cherry") and Kathryn Harrison ("The Kiss") and, of course, Frank McCourt's Irish ramblings, among others. But thirty or so years before all these candid, sometimes titillating, self confessions, Frank Conroy wrote a book titled "Stop-Time," a memoir that surpasses all of them in the beauty of its prose and the poignant and deep sensitivity of its feeling.
"Stop-Time" tells the story of Frank Conroy's first eighteen years of life, a life marked by the ordinary rather than the lurid or unseemly. But the ordinariness of the life is elevated by the dreamlike, sensitive, asynchronous wonder of Conroy's writing. As Conroy relates in the first chapter of his narrative, in a passage that gives you a feeling for his writing style and for the narrative to follow: "My faith in the firmness of time slips away gradually. I begin to believe that chronological time is an illusion and that some other principle organizes existence. My memories flash like clips of film from unrelated movies."
"Stop-Time" is a stunning example of how great writing can elevate even the most ordinary of lives. The facts of Conroy's memoir are not remarkable. He grew up in relatively poor circumstances, his father died of cancer when he was 12 and lived most of his life apart from Conroy's mother, he spent his time primarily between New York and Florida, and he was a bright boy who performed miserably in school.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Conroy has been compared to Holden Caulfield, but Stop-Time, of course, is memoir - not fiction. Also, Conroy's writing is understated, haunting, and lyrical, even when he's talking about pretty brutal and gritty stuff. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to study the art of the memoir. First published in 1967, it still rings with the truth of boyhood and adolescence during a certain time in America.
The facts are not so terribly remarkable: He grew up poor, was bright but didn't do well in school, moved around a lot, his father died when he was 12, and he didn't get along with his stepfather (who, after Conroy's mother left, moved an insane girlfriend into the home). Okay, all that makes a good enough tale - but what really elevates it to high art is Conroy's skill as a writer, his ability to take a teensy memory or detail and expand it into something utterly remarkable.
Read it.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
The memoir has become a particularly prominent literary form in the past decade, often blending fact and fiction in licentious literary exploration. I think, particularly, of Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club" and, more recently, "Cherry") and Kathryn Harrison ("The Kiss") and, of course, Frank McCourt's Irish ramblings, among others. But thirty or so years before all these candid, sometimes titillating, self confessions, Frank Conroy wrote a book titled "Stop-Time," a memoir that surpasses all of them in the beauty of its prose and the poignant and deep sensitivity of its feeling.
"Stop-Time" tells the story of Frank Conroy's first eighteen years of life, a life marked by the ordinary rather than the lurid or unseemly. But the ordinariness of the life is elevated by the dreamlike, sensitive, asynchronous wonder of Conroy's writing. As Conroy relates in the first chapter of his narrative, in a passage that gives you a feeling for his writing style and for the narrative to follow: "My faith in the firmness of time slips away gradually. I begin to believe that chronological time is an illusion and that some other principle organizes existence. My memories flash like clips of film from unrelated movies."
"Stop-Time" is a stunning example of how great writing can elevate even the most ordinary of lives. The facts of Conroy's memoir are not remarkable. He grew up in relatively poor circumstances, his father died of cancer when he was 12 and lived most of his life apart from Conroy's mother, he spent his time primarily between New York and Florida, and he was a bright boy who performed miserably in school.
Read more ›
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