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The Basketball Diaries Paperback – July 7, 1987
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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.
The obvious and pre-eminent contemporary reason for taking this short work on is to compare it with the 1995 blockbuster film of the same name starring Leonardo DeCaprio. The comparable titles is where the similarities end however...the book and the film are completely different. And in this reviewer's opinion, and as is almost always the case, this book far exceeds the movie.
Starting in the Fall of 1963, we're immediately thrown into Carroll's world of mid-town Manhattan as he romps with a variety of like-minded youth and city scum. With a constant theme of drug searching overwhelming each entry, Carrol extols in very clear and contemporarily charming 1960's hip New York language his escapades getting high, having sex, getting into small but growing criminal activity and becoming a general nuisance. The basketball entries are very cool also...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's amazing to know Jim Carroll wrote this book when he was age 13-16, not only due to subject matter but for the undeniable talent that seeps through every page. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lynx
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop... for something interesting to happen. It didn't. I was disappointed by the book - I'd hoped for something great given the way people... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
ANIMALISTIC. This candid diary about about a boy causing mischief and mayhem all across NYC in the 60s provides insight into the animalistic cravings and yearnings of a teen boy... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Chris Hopkins
Sorry, didn't realize i overlooked the feedback. great jobPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A gritty account of Jim Carroll's adolescent years running amok in New York City and later spiraling out of control with his heroin addiction. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Vanessa