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Basketball Diaries (Paperback) (Jim Carroll)
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Vivid, hilarious, and chilling, Jim Carroll's memoir of his adolescent years in the early 1960s attending Trinity School on Manhattan's Upper West Side, playing basketball, and getting high on a various combinations of chemicals, alcohol, and narcotics is a classic of its kind. His cast of characters, mostly drawn from real life, includes neighbors, teachers, and classmates. Carroll is especially effective in tracing the complex web of relationships between his immediate friends, kids they encounter from different neighborhoods, and adults, who seem to exist solely to either enable or punish. New York City is portrayed as the kids' own personal kingdom, with its different neighborhoods by turns friendly or menacing; Carroll's world is a parallel universe filled with sporadic violence, temporary alliances, and illicit highs. Recounting the gradual escalation of his drug use, which grows over the course of the book from sniffing Carbona cleaning fluid to a full-blown ****** addiction, Carroll depicts the attraction of getting high, as well as its debilitating effects. The antithesis of a feel-good, coming-of-age story, THE BASKETBALL DIARIES conveys the raw, amoral authenticity of life lived on a knife edge.