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I don’t recall exactly when it was, so let’s say about three months ago, I read a review of a novel titled “The Petting Zoo,” by the late Jim Carroll. I thought to myself, who is Jim Carroll? and why is the L.A. Times devoting its space to such a rather blasé' review of the man’s last book? I decided to look a little deeper into the life and times of Mr. Carroll. I was both happily surprised and bitterly disappointed for my efforts.

It turns out that Mr. Carroll, who passed away suddenly in 2009, aged 60, was a poet, musician and diarist born and raised on the dangerous streets of New York City. Besides petty criminal and two-bit drug abuser, Mr. Carroll was a talented basketball player who attend Trinity High School in Manhattan on a scholarship as an All-City basketball star.

In 1978, Mr. Carroll’s “The Basketball Diaries” was published. It chronicled his life of “hustling, stealing, getting high, getting hooked, and searching for something pure” (as the back of the book describes) on those most dangerous streets in a very fast paced and entertaining way. I read the book and enjoyed its humor and wit and was not at all surprised by the fact that the book was eventually used in 1995 as the basis for a movie of the same name starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Feeling I had stumbled across a talented find I decided to invest some more time and money in Mr. Carroll’s poetry collection titled “Fear of Dreaming.” This, I’m sorry to say, is where all the fun came to a screeching halt...and I mean big time!

Jim Carroll was a terrible poet. An embarrassingly horrible poet. Mr. Carroll’s poetry is the sort of clap-trap-fake-nonsense-junk-poetry that makes you sad at first, and then angry, and then resigned to the fact that human beings are apparently just not meant to write poetry. It just boggles the mind. It hurts to read it. Having read Jim Carroll’s poetry I felt violated and foolish. Suckered. Empty. Beat. Broken. Gypped.

And so, of course, what did I do? I went right out and bought his novel “The Petting Zoo.” What else would you expect me to do? I begin reading it today.

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The following comments are for "Thoughts on Jim Carroll."
by johnjohndoe

good on ya
Now this is the kind of information that I like to read. Instead of being put off by the bad poetry you returned to the place he shone.

( Posted by: Pen [Member] On: March 2, 2011 )

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