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3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,088 ratings  ·  212 reviews
First published in 1967, Stop-Time was immediately recognized as a masterpiece of modern American autobiography, a brilliant portrayal of one boy's passage from childhood to adolescence and beyond. Here is Frank Conroy's wry, sad, beautiful tale of life on the road; of odd jobs and lost friendships, brutal schools and first loves; of a father's early death and a son's exhi ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 24th 1977 by Penguin Books (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,088 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Jun 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
"Stop-Time" is such a unique book. The writing is so evocative, making even the most mundane details fascinating. I think if I could make a wish and emulate the writing style of any writer, past or present, I very well might choose Frank Conroy. My favorite passage is Conroy's description of how he used books to escape as a teenager:
"I withdrew into myself and let the long months go by, spending my time reading....Night after night I'd lie in bed, with a glass of milk and a package of oatmeal co
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
First I say that I don't much like memoirs and then I decide to read two in a row. I've been trying for a month now to figure out how to describe the very specific emotional state that Stop-Time put me in every time I read a chapter and I guess I'm not going to come up with it.

I first heard about this book when Conroy died, and--as advertised--he's a fantastic writer. I would read a passage and think, "Wow, what incredible writing" and then would go back through it and realize that there were n
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Conroy writes well. In fact, he writes too well. So technically proficient, that he became a teacher of writing for many years at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Yet this was his first and only (so it is said) highly successful book. There is something Mannerist about it, in its proficiency.

The book is a memoir that reads like a novel, broken into a series of short-stories. It has honesty and depth. I found the later sections, as Frank turned 15, more compelling than the earlier sections. He was, how
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm always interested in how we learn about a new book or author. What's the best way to get a good book recommendation? Is it through Goodreads suggestion algorithm? I would say not. From friends? Sure, sometimes, occasionally, but we all know the pressure that comes from a friend suggestion and seeing that book stare at you in the face on your bookshelf for months.

My personal favorite way is when a beloved author points you towards something that was meaningful to them. In the case of Frank Co
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My library copy of this almost fifty-year-old book has been taped together, and the pages are pliable from many turnings. The blurbs on the back of the old Penguin paperback call Stop-Time an “American autobiography,” a phrase which gave me pause. When did we start using the word memoir? When did memoirs become our chronicles of modern life? Frank Conroy must surely have been a pioneer, but I have no authoritative assurance of that.

Stop-Time is a compelling collection of memories, non-linear and
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like this memoir for its meandering qualities, the lack of plot, and the simplest stories told in a highly detailed style. Even the chapter about how he obsessed over yo-yo tricks was engaging and fun. This is a quiet book about growing up in the 40s and 50s and it doesn't need weighty subplots (child abuse, drugs, etc.) like the memoirs were used to seeing the past couple of decades. Even though it was first published in '67, it still feels fresh.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I tried hard to like this coming-of-age memoir that has generated so many fans over the years. It does have some beautiful, vivid writing; however, some of it was self-absorbedly (apologies for inventing a word) bizarre and bogged me down.

Nicholas Moryl
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
A uniquely American coming-of-age novel: road travel and fatherlessness feature prominently. The memoir focuses on creating an identity for oneself without having a role model. In a way, it's almost an existentialist bildungsroman.

It's well-written and doesn't spare detail to court sympathy. The narrator isn't always likeable and he doesn't attempt to justify or apologize for his actions. Growing up is awkward and full of things we'd rather sweep under the rug, but what matters is more what one
Stephen Davenport
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've owned my copy of "Stop-Time" for over 20 years, leaving it unread until just four days ago. Every time I took it down from its shelf I put it back, suspicious, as I tend to be of the memoir genre, that anyone who would write several hundred pages about him or herself must be self important and therefore boring.
This time, before I put it back on the shelf, I read the Prologue. Half way through ( It is only one page) I sat down and before I went to bed that night, I'd consumed two thirds o
Kathleen Maher
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book after "Mid-Air." I've never checked to see if "Stop-Time" is listed as a memoir, autobiography, or fiction. The label might matter a lot to the writer--in terms of how he or she's telling a story that comes from their memory. But memory is so difficult to separate from imagination for me--even when I recall something with intense precision, someone else who was there recalls it differently--that I read life stories the same way I read all stories: do they ring true?
"Stop-Time" i
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A memoir that reads like a novel, written with enviable clarity and candour. Perhaps the most harrowing chapter deals with a boys' school and makes Lord of the Flies read like Enid Blyton. If I could nominate six memoirs as contemporary classics, this book would be on it. If you're wondering, the others would be as follows:

Unreliable Memoirs, Clive James
This Boy's Life, Tobias Wolff
Memoir, John McGahern
The Unexpected Professor, John Carey
Once in a House on Fire, Andrea Ashworth
Daniel Sevitt
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-biography
I came to this because they were talking about it on the Literary Disco podcast a while back. It's a remarkable book that works as a memoir but also a coming of age novel. By the end I was seeing it as a direct forerunner of Knausgaard's epic collection which is as high praise as I can imagine. Wonderful reading.
Peter Landau
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Memoirs get a bad name, mostly from me. But Frank Conroy is the exception that proves the rule. STOP-TIME charts his childhood to early adulthood in evocative episodes that have no agenda other than to capture that boring, frightening, exciting period we all go through (if we’re lucky). Your experiences might be different, but everyone will recognize the feelings he conjures.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A strong, stoical memoir, Stop-Time, published in 1967, recounts Conroy’s childhood and adolescence placed inside two narrow contemporary frames: accounts of reckless to the point of suicide/homicide driving from London to the countryside. The prologue and epilogue are both very brief but reveal an adult who should be responsible and perhaps even happy, but clearly is otherwise disturbed. Madness runs, to borrow from “Arsenic and Old Lace,” in Conroy’s family. His dad was in and out of instituti ...more
Patricia Murphy
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Here's one where I struggle with stars. Instead of "I liked it" I wish I had an option to say "I know I was supposed to like it but really I spent 2 of the 6 hours wishing I could read something else." Conroy had me, then he didn't. He had me, then he didn't. The prose was fine, but I was annoyed by structure and voice, and perhaps this is because I'm spoiled by the highly revised and stylized narratives of modern memoirs. If I had read this in 67 I might have been more forgiving.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars
This so-called classic ocming of age memoir didn't impress me. Some of the prose was nice byt the structure of plain exposition with no revelation was puzzling. Maybe it was groundbreaking in its time (1964) but it did little for me.
David Jones
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
I kept trying and trying to let the text take over, but it just wasn't happening. It is well written, but something about it I never found compelling.
May 19, 2012 marked it as to-read
David Foster Wallace said this book made him want to be a writer, so I'm in.
Katherine Snedden
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I read four or five hours every night at home, but it was never quite as sweet as in school, when even a snatch read as I climbed the stairs seemed to protect me from my surroundings with an efficacy that bordered on the magical. And if the story dealt with questions of life and death, so much the better. How could I be seriously worried about having nothing to hand in at Math when I was pinned in a shallow foxhole, under a mortar barrage, a dead man across my back and an hysterical young lieut ...more
Abby Howell
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frank Conroy in Stop-Time: Possibly I cried. I really can’t remember. My last image is from on top of the stone pillar, recognizing the car and watching it come toward me. In a sense it’s as if it never reached me, as if approaching me, it drove into invisibility. Perhaps children remember only waiting for things. The moment events begin to occur they lose themselves in movement, like a hypnotized dancer This is a very poetic coming of age memoir exploring childhood until Frank Conroy goes to un ...more
Eugenea Pollock
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A precocious child adrift in a family with a streak of madness, painfully alone, usually neglected by the adults in his life—but he has an excellent memory. And he grows up to become a writer of uncommon talent whose genius recreates this often bizarre world of his past. If you read this memoir, be prepared to go places seldom seen outside of the genre of fiction. No wonder he headed the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for 18 years.
Bowen Dwelle
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: men, memoir, youth
“I stood as if listening to music, and in something like the way we are told suns are born … my body … began to coalesce. Warmth flooded my limbs… I sank down…wishing to disturb nothing in the suddenly harmonious world.” p139
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall, I liked the book. I enjoyed the author's descriptions because they caused the reader to be able to picture the events and put themselves in the place of the character. I would rate this a three out of five and would recommend this book to people who like non-fiction.
Nick Black
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
at times breathtaking
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
This is a memoir that reads like a novel and undoubtedly contains some fiction scattered among the exhilarating stories of Frank Conroy's youth. Covering the period up to his entrance into Haverford University this memoir creates a world pain and joy and the often awkward encounters of a young boy with real life. I was drawn back into the memoir upon reading a reference to it in David Ulin's wonderful extended essay, The Lost Art of Reading, where Ulin comments on young Conroy's reading habits. ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
The first part of this memoir reminded me of the crazy relatives in Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors. Conroy's father evidently spent many years in a "rest home" and Conroy later lives with a suicidal Holly Golightly type. Despite the colorful cast, this memoir never came together for me. The author's focus is the adolescent male mind with all its psycho-sexual trappings. I found that a tight, uncomfortable place to be. Also, I didn't understand the bookends of the story, a winding narr ...more
Elizabeth Wallace
Sep 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Definitely a fun, easy read. Frank Conroy's autobiography reads like a wait, it reads more like a collection of short stories, each little vignette very well self contained, but more interesting for all the other stories that have gone before it. And he does AMAZING work when describing people. Characters will show up for no more than two or three pages and are never seen again, but in that time he describes the most interesting thing about them in casual detail, and you end up feeling ...more
Christopher Litsinger
Apr 22, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
While this book gets better reviewed by most than "Body and Soul", to me it stands most interesting as a series of footnotes and behind the scenes explanations of that book. The fractured sense of time in the book may have been innovative for its time (not really sure about that, just a thought) but the lack of a central story to this memoir keeps it from being great (to me).

In spite of the 3 star, I would still recommend it as a must read, but if you're going to read one Frank Conroy book, read
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
On the campus of my alma mater, near the front doors of the library sits a sculpture of a young man, hamburger in one hand and a book in the other. He's on chapter 8 of Frank Conroy's Stop-Time. That was my only reason for reading this book. Why I waited nine years after graduating to finally get to this book is beyond me.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
David Foster Wallace mentions this book in an essay, as being formative for him, and one of his favorite books. Since DFW is one of my favorite authors, I eagerly started this little known coming of age autobiography written in the early 60's. Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I expected The Catcher in the Rye. It was plodding, mediocre in writing quality, and ultimately disappointing.
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Frank Conroy was an American author, born in New York, New York to an American father and a Danish mother. He published five books, including the highly acclaimed memoir Stop-Time, published in 1967, which ultimately made Conroy a noted figure in the literary world. The book was nominated for the National Book Award.
Conroy graduated from Haverford College, and was director of the influential Iowa

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