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The Petting Zoo

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  462 ratings  ·  93 reviews

A moving, vividly rendered novel from the late author of The Basketball Diaries.

When poet, musician, and diarist Jim Carroll died in September 2009, he was putting the finishing touches on a potent work of fiction. The Petting Zoo tells the story of Billy Wolfram, an enigmatic thirty- eight-year-old artist who has become a hot star in the late-1980s New York art scene. A

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Published November 4th 2010 by Tantor Media, Inc.
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(showing 1-30 of 1,335)
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

So before anything else, let me make it clear that I'm as big a fan of Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries as anyone else, his 1978 memoir about growing up in '60s Manhattan as a working-class sports star, sex fiend and teenage heroin addict, which eventually led to the punk-era Jim Carroll Band that achi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carissa Weibley
I happened to be in a Borders just the other week, and was surprised to see that despite the dramatically reduced clearance prices, this book was still on the shelves. I had read an article about it back in late 2010 in the village voice and had subsequently forgotten to add it to my "to read" list.

The book was in draft form when Jim Carroll passed away in 2009. Cassie Carter, a literary scholar, Rosemary Carroll, former wife and Paul Slovak, editor, decided to publish the book with minimal cha
I picked this novel out from the public library, looking for an existential self-exploration akin to "Nausea" or "The Stranger" but written in modern times by an American author. In no way was I let down. I found highly resonant (and heartbreaking) Carroll's depiction of the ambivalence one experiences when coping with sudden, seemingly insurmountable self-revelation and the consequent tsunami of malaise. Swim, float, or drown? It depends on the day, hour, or moment, on whether it seems to be wo ...more
This novel by poet Jim Carroll was just as I'd hoped it would be. A real novel, rather than an edgy post-modern artsy gimmicky word-play mish-mash of New York junk drenched delusion, as I feared it might be. It is introspective story telling. The story of the troubled mind of an outstanding and gifted artist. It's about the fragility of an artist's mind when dealing with celebrity and the difficulty of forming relationships with those outside this solitary mindset.

And is the raven friend or foe?
Some questions...

Why is every person a walking thesaurus? Why do several different types of people consistently use the same words and turns of phrase ("propitious" turns up A LOT)? Why do the characters speak as if they are narrating their actions? (One character says that she went up to a bar and sat "slumpingly" on a stool. Really? "Slumpingly"? And in conversation?) Why does it sound like the dialogue has been translated into English via a third-rate online translator? Why, in a book about a
Jun 12, 2013 Denise rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Denise by: Denis Dube
Jim Carroll is an artist I've followed for years now. This book was not a disappointment. The writing is true to his style - artful and moody and full of wit. A good story and endearing characters. All with NY flavour. I especially enjoyed the Billy's-stay-on-the-psych-ward scenes.
Jim Cherry
“O great creator of being/grant us one more hour to/perform our art/& perfect our lives” An American Prayer, Jim Morrison

“The Petting Zoo” is a poet’s look back, not only at his life, but the art, celebrity, and the ideas that guided him. “The Petting Zoo” was Jim Carroll’s first and last novel, he died shortly before putting the finishing edits on the book. For those fans of Carroll’s or books with a poetic bent, “The Petting Zoo” is a must read.

Most people are aware of Jim Carroll through
A young artist runs from his exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in New York City , only to find himself in the city zoo at the petting zoo location. It is nigh time and the zoo is closed ,but Billy climbs the fence and goes to the Noah's Ark exhibit of the petting zoo. He tries to calm down after leaving the art show abruptly. On leaving the ark ,Billy hits his head and gets quiet a gash. A raven speaks to him and Billy is off and running. The raven tells him where a ladder is so he ca ...more
A masterfully told story and a work of true brilliance. It is clever, witty, humorous, and heartbreaking, taking the reader onto a rather unique journey into the mind of an artist as he is forced into enraging upon an inward journey to rediscover himself.

It all began on one fateful night when Bill Wolfram, a golden boy of the modern art world, who had everything an artist could ever dream of has a rather shocking encounter with the works of famous painter Velazquez. He is suddenly thrown into d
Jona Cannon
I won this book from goodreads firstreads! Billy Wolfram is a brilliant yet haunted artist. He is obsessive/compulsive and quite depressed. His obsessive psyche forces him to find spirituality in his work as well as his life in an unhealthy way. From what I read about Jim Carroll on Wikipedia, this book is a shadow of his real life.

Jim Carroll was a talented writer, and I'm sure he would like to have edited this book a bit more before he regretfully passed on. I was both moved and disturbed by h
Nov 18, 2011 Pauline marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A moving, vividly rendered novel from the late author of The Basketball Diaries.

When poet, musician, and diarist Jim Carroll died in September 2009, he was putting the finishing touches on a potent work of fiction. The Petting Zoo tells the story of Billy Wolfram, an enigmatic thirty- eight-year-old artist who has become a hot star in the late-1980s New York art scene. As the novel opens, Billy, after viewing a show of Velázquez paintings, is so humbled and awed by their spiritual power that he

When Jim Carroll passed away on September 11, 2009, New York lost a poet and punk rocker who was famous for writing The Basketball Diaries, an autobiographical account of his drug habits as a teenage basketball star. Carroll’s diary entries were published in book form in 1978 after first appearing in The New Yorkerand inspiring a fervent readership. The cult classic was followed almost ten years later by Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973,whic
I would call this book self-indulgent- maybe even masturbatory- if it were clear that Carroll actually wanted it published in this form. Because we don't know what more he would have done with it (abandoned it, burned it, drop idly edited it) had he lived longer, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. The blame really lies with his editors- the people who thought this was a work of fiction worthy of publication. To be clear, in my opinion, it's really not. It's hard for me to imagine this com ...more
Considering this book wasn't yet finished when JC died, in Inwood, two years ago, I'm going to give some of the rough edges and lack of polish the benefit of the doubt and not hold it against the book as a whole. But that still doesn't save the leaden, wooden dialogue throughout. Or the cardboard thin characters with barely explained motivations. Or the contrived ending.

But despite these things, I found myself enraptured by what's really a series of spinning monologues - digressions and investi
The fact that the only character worth a damn in this book is not the central one (famous, extraordinary, genius, famous, omg-he's-amazing painter Billy Wolfram) but the talking raven should be indicative of how lousy this book truly is. I wish the talking raven had his own book. It would have been awesome. Btw, the two stars should both be awarded to the talking raven and ONLY THE TALKING RAVEN.

***POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT, depending on how you define "spoiler"***
Also, let's put a moratorium on th
I finished this a few days ago, but wasn't sure what I wanted to say. I liked the story. It starts with Billy Wolfram running out of an art exhibit and ending up in the psych ward of a hospital. It goes from the present back in time to explain the thinngs that happened to him that made him the way he is.
While I did like the book I felt like there was no climax. It just went along until it ended and I did not like that.
Actually I did not finish it. This is the 3rd book in a row I have slammed shut! It is a troubled artist's inner monologue, running on and on and on.... I found myself saying to myself, "Who cares!" (Another reviewer said it was a modern existentialist book a la The Stranger. Well, it just didn't do anything for me!)
Surfing Moose
First quarter was good and interesting but lost interest half way through and lasted another 50 pages. Just stopped caring about the characters and found them pretentious. Probably would have been a different novel if Jim Carroll had the opportunity to finish it.
almost don't want to read it as a last work. however, i do envy some of you who already got through a copy -mind you, Free too boot! Nice...

And Jim, these days I miss you more than all the others
And I salute you brother...
China Bialos
I was so, so eager to read this one when I found out (just after Jim Carroll's death) that it existed. Basketball Diaries and Forced Entries were brilliantly written, no overthinking involved in the writing. So it was a great big disappointment to read The Petting Zoo and - as some reviewers have said - find myself getting bored, wanting to get on with it. I don't doubt that it would've benefited from another edit, and while I did find the story cohesive, it was indeed somewhat masturbatory at t ...more
Barry Hammond
I've been a fan of Jim Carroll since "The Basketball Diaries," and through all the subsequent books of poetry and prose, my sole regret being there's not more of it. He seems both the quintessential Irish Catholic boy and complete New Yorker. I've always been both moved and laughed out loud at his writing. Sad to think this is the last we'll get from him since he died in 2009. Since I was out of the book business for a little over three years, I'm just catching up on it now but thoroughly enjoye ...more
I'll admit it, sometimes I do judge a book by its cover. So, I spent a month noticing the strikingly sketchy raven on the cover of The Petting Zoo by the late Jim Carroll before I got around to picking it up and reading it. This book has all the hallmarks of a winner for Michelle, psychological baggage, an intriguing artist protagonist, and even some mystical presence to it, but as much as I found myself to the story of Billy Wolfram, famous young neo-surreal painter and basket-case, I found mys ...more
In the beginning I was LOVING this book. I loved Jim Carrol's "voice" and the main character. The writing seemed truly inspired, and reading this book was a very enjoyable experience - at first. I felt like I was inside the head of an artistic genius and found the perspective fascinating.

The pace was slow and steady and seemed to be building to something wonderful, then the writing suddenly began to meander. It is almost certainly due to the fact that Jim Carroll died before doing a final edit.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susie Sentevski
The disorganization and unpolished passages of this book are distracting, for sure, but they are also expected considering, as other reviewers have noted, that this work was in draft form when Carroll passed away. Conceptually, the book is wonderful - a deep look at the relationship between the creative process and the broken mind. Unfortunately, I'm not sure Carroll executed the project with his characteristic, imagery-heavy finesse. With a collection of the most verbose characters I believe I' ...more
I felt like there was a little unfinished business, but over all it was good. I wasn't into art, but something about this book, made me go and pick up an art book. I've never been moved by anything in my life. The fact that Billy, lost his mind from just a moment after seeing a piece of art, really spoke to volumes to me. I one day want to be moved, or pushed into insanity one day.
This book cares way too much about its main character. It treats him like a god. It's pretentious and self-centered and extremely ridiculous.

The premise is asinine at best, and the dialogue is horrific, because, who actually speaks like that?

Couldn't even get through the first 30 pages.
Thank you for allowing to read this novel, yes this was a giveaway on goodreads.
The review on the back cover of the novel used the word "haunting". I think I would add thought provoking and disturbing. I normally read novels for entertainment and look for easy reads, this was not an easy read for me. I would red a few chapters and feel like I needed a break to digest what I had read. I thought the character development of Billy was amazing. I believe that Mr. Carroll must have had known a brilli
In compliance with FTC guidelines, I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

This novel of an artist who is obsessed, depressed, etc. sounds a little auto-biographical. Carroll didn't get a chance to finish editing or re-writing the rough parts or to give this novel the severe biting edge that his poetry and journals tended to contain, yet the exploration of the madness that is Billy Wolfram's life is worth reading.

Some of the imagery and details can be disturbing, which brings
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James Dennis "Jim" Carroll was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll was best known for his 1978 autobiographical work The Basketball Diaries, which was made into the 1995 film of the same name with Leonardo DiCaprio as Carroll.
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“On a whim, he stopped and bought a watch from a sidewalk vendor. Normally, Billy could not abide keeping time, especially when it was attached to one’s body. Time was like a relentlessly needy lapdog one had to haul around. It barked too much and had no sense of loyalty.” 12 likes
“Back then, Billy imagined that drops of rain were unanswered prayers falling back to earth.” 11 likes
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