Top critical review
Filling the Hole
on December 1, 2012
Prizewinning author Jack Gantos reveals a haunting, yet inspirational glimpse into "the bleakest year of (his) life" in his 2004 autobiography "Hole in my Life." Desperate for an On-The-Road-esque adventure, Gantos weaves through his home state of Florida searching for an anecdote to earn him a bestseller like Kerouac's. But he finds nothing, he thinks, that would live up to the majestic adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, so he concluded his travels in the Virgin Islands, working a dead-end construction job, living with his parents, broke and abandoning his dream of becoming a writer.
He only thinks he has been defeated when he accepts an offer of $10,000 to help sail a massive stash of marijuana to New York City. Inevitably, he and his captain are found out and thrown in prison, where he is mortified by the violence behind bars. It is then that Gantos finally realizes his adventures in the past year were worthy of documentation, so he writes his story in the margins of a prison library book.
It isn't necessarily that Gantos' teenage life was filled with remarkable exploration or that he offers a unique perspective of prison life that made this book valuable. Rather, it was that at the moment Gantos was convinced his life was over, he discovered that he was finally capable of achieving his dream. And after searching for something to write about for so long, he suddenly realizes that the story was right in front of him the whole time.