Jim Carroll’s “The Basketball Diaries”

I never read this. Have you read this?  How could I have never read this? Maybe because it has “basketball” in the title and I’m not a big sports fan.

I found a used copy on my father-in-law’s bookshelf. That’s my favorite way to read a book: to just come upon it. Like the book has been waiting for you, all this time, to find it. Open the front flap, read the first page and be pulled in — hook, line and sinker.

I grabbed “The Basketball Diaries” off my father-in-law’s bookshelf, lay down on one of the old mattresses that must be 50 years old, soft and sinking as a marshmallow, and read 50 pages.  My husband kept calling for me, but I didn’t answer. I was sucked in.

I can’t believe this came out in the ’70s. I wonder if it was heavily edited — what 13 year old can write like that? But it also made me think of the rapid rise of memoirs in the past few years and how “Diaries” feels 30 years ahead of it’s time, ahead of all the memoirs that came out recently (fabricated or otherwise) that tried to do just this: feed the public’s fascination with drugs and sex and what we don’t know about certain sides of life.

Some of the language feels a little ’60s and stilted — the “digs” and the “mans” — but for the most part, it feels completely modern and real and now.

As my beloved writing teacher Bill Tester would say, One human heart talking to another in the most honest way possible.

It makes me feel inspired. To just tell the truth. And let it sing.

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