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The Basketball Diaries Paperback – July 7, 1987
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Top Customer Reviews
That said, this is was NOT a fun book to read. There is much about Carroll's life in this period that is not pretty. His growing dependency on drugs is readily apparent as the book progresses, as is his willingness to do almost anything to pay for his next fix. There are graphic descriptions of both the drug use and his sexual encounters, but even so there is a sense of honesty in the account that somehow seems to be redeeming. In the end, this is a powerful glimpse into a life on the streets.
Most of my perspective comes from the movie so bear with me. In the movie, Leonardo tries heroin as part of his downward spiral and it really turns the movie dark. In the book, he tries heroin almost at the beginning and complains because he always thought that pot got you high. In the movie Leonardo is hitching rides on buses at the beginning and turning to nastier crimes later on. In the book Carroll is describing the best methods for purse snatching. In the movie, Leonardo hustles for tricks as one of the last signs that he's fallen from grace. In the book, Carroll complains about the gay johns who make him go to baseball games or want him to whip cats to death ("unfortunately for him I was in a cat-loving mood that day and whipped him instead"). In the movie there is a helpful friend who tries to get him off of drugs. That guy is fortunately absent in the book. In the movie there is a long sequence about the best friend with cancer. In the book, he's creeped out by the corpse but that's about it.
In essence, the movie serves up a rough-around-the-edges kid who gets into a bad situation that only gets worse. The book by contrast has Jim Carroll pure and malignant, snatching purses and shooting up without a care as to the consequences. He's a nasty little punk and he deserves most of what happens to him.Read more ›
Having seen and loved the film I was naturally comparing and contrasting the two throughout - unlike the film, however, there are no guardian angels in real life. Instead by the last pages of Basketball Diaries we see Carroll consciously having hit rock bottom. When I first saw the film I felt frustration because it seemed that to comment on the world of heroine-use one must be a heroine user. No other way seems to exist to enter that world deep enough and gain its inhabitant's trust. However, reading the book it became apparent that Carroll is simply one who likes looking into the things and people around him with more depth than most - and has the passion to put those insights onto paper.
In reading Basketball Diaries I developed enough contempt for Carroll to convince me never to follow the same path. His wit, intelligence and athleticism - all which he maintains while engaging various habits - meant however that I was also grudgingly admiring of him.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this great memoir in my first year of med school (1981). I was already a fan of the Jim Carroll Band. I don't think the movie did the prose justice. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Phaedrus
Whether you believe any of these stories actually occurred is really not the point of a contemporary reading of this classic Kerouac/Ginsberg era troupe through New York City's... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Thomas Moody
I decided to read the book because I very much enjoy the movie. It is an extremely interesting but fairly short book. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Michael J. Kish