Thursday, March 18, 2010

Forced Entries by Jim Carroll

This is a kind of sequel to The Basketball Diaries, written over the course of a few years in the early 70s while Carroll was living in downtown Manhattan. Throughout its pages we catch glimpses of what it might have been like to live in that incredible moment in time--he frequents Max's Kansas City, cavorting with Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, the Warhol factory crowd, and even Robert Smithson, does a lot of drugs, and writes with a wonderfully poetic sensibility.

Carroll says on the second page of the book, "If you haven't died by an age thought predetermined through the timing of your abuses and excesses, then what else is left but to start another diary?" When he died a few months ago I couldn't help marveling at how long he actually did live (recent photographs show a frighteningly skeletal figure). I saw him read eight or nine years ago from a novel that he had been writing for many years, and I remember it being powerful and moving. Called The Petting Zoo, I'm happy to learn that it will finally be published this November.

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