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The Basketball Diaries

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  29,128 ratings  ·  491 reviews
The urban classic coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, and basketball.

Jim Carroll grew up to become a renowned poet and punk rocker. But in this memoir of the mid-1960's, set during his coming-of-age from 12 to 15, he was a rebellious teenager making a place and a name for himself on the unforgiving streets of New York City. During these years, he chronicled his
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 1995 by Penguin Books/Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (first published June 1st 1978)
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Todd Dawson-Cooper I'm glad to see Welsh, Palahniuk, Burroughs and especially Rollins referenced here -- but the absolute best recommendation in my opinion would be…moreI'm glad to see Welsh, Palahniuk, Burroughs and especially Rollins referenced here -- but the absolute best recommendation in my opinion would be anything by Hubert Selby Jr -- particularly 'Last Exit to Brooklyn' and 'Requiem For A Dream', both are very, very, dark, viceral and gritty pieces of fiction, but if you're looking for another memoir, I'd recommend 'Will Work For Drugs' by Lydia Lunch. (less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  29,128 ratings  ·  491 reviews

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Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Before there was a “cop on every corner” in New York, there were some of the most interesting characters frolicking around, bounding up and down the streets as if they were players in a real-life version of a very fucked up Wonderland. Pimps and prostitutes and transvestites and junkies and businessmen and children and you-name-it all blended together and somehow figured out a way to live a somewhat harmonious existence in this concrete jungle.

This was the land of Jim Carrol. And it was in this
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's amazing to know Jim Carroll wrote this book when he was age 13-16, not only due to subject matter but for the undeniable talent that seeps through every page. With Manhattan as his playground and local junkies, thieves and hooligans as his playmates, Carroll spirals from mild delinquent to full blown addict believing (as all addicts first do) that where others fail, he has it all under control.

Those expecting this to be like the movie beware. Hollywood takes a bunch of his stories, glosses
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
The Basketball Diaries reminded me of an after school special (look it up, kiddies) gone very, very wrong. And while I'm sure this book attracts adherents because it's “real” or whatever I can't say the book held much of my interest.

Maybe The Basketball Diaries is one of those titles that when first published (1978) was considered cautionary and groundbreaking but needs too much license and contextualization in 2011. For example, these passages are supposedly Carroll's authentic (although
Carac Allison
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
William Burroughs and Irvine Welsh wrote my favorite books about junk addiction. I love "Naked Lunch" and I love "Trainspotting".

I don't think of Jim Carroll when I consider those two writers. Because I don't think of Jim Carroll as a writer.

I don't think of "The Basketball Diaries" when I consider those two novels. Because "The Basketball Diaries" isn't fiction.

Jim Carroll was a prodigy diarist and "The Basketball Diaries" is a personal journal of his addiction. The power of the words comes not
Apr 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Sex, drugs and stealing purses.

My old lady found a nickel bag of grass in my hiding spot under the rug today and flushed it down the toilet. She had a long talk with me and asked me if I was addicted to the stuff. I told her it's heroin you get addicted to, not grass, and I think I finally convinced her. She was not so convinced that she'd give me back the five bucks though, when I asked her for it. In fact, I think she got a little angry about it.

Jim Carroll's early teens growing up
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some bold lines. Visceral and vivid, striking. Perhaps I should have read this when I was a bit younger, but I still enjoyed it now. Strong writing.
William Prystauk
Aug 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Carroll’s diary chronicles his teenage years of drug addiction in New York City during the mid-1960s. He tells the reader candidly about his addictions to glue, codeine and heroin, what he did to get it and all the sex he had along the way.

Most importantly, Carroll established a consistent tone and voice full of sardonic wit and he never flinched at revealing his life at the time. For better or worse – most assuredly worse – Carroll has the guts to expose his ugly self to the reader and holds
I don't really remember a thing about this book except that I really did like it at the time that I read it, around age fourteen. When the movie came out I cut school and drank some cough syrup or something and went to go see the matinee by myself. This was in Leonardo DiCaprio's fleeting, long-past early-nineties moment of hotness, and in the movie -- which was bad -- he looked gorgeous and lanky leaping around on the basketball court in his Catholic schoolboy uniform -- dammmmmmn. Whew! Leo, ...more
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If I had to chose one book as my favorite of all time, it would be The Basketball Diaries. I've basically lost track of the number of times I have reread it.

The fact that the book is, in fact, Carroll's diary makes it so much more real. His experiences aren't censored and modified. Instead, you are given an intimate and raw look into a portion of Carroll's teenage years and his struggles with substance abuse, as well as just growing up, in 1960's New York City.
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The book where I felt transported to a place so different than the world I knew. Still one of my favorite books.

And now for some riffage at TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog - http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.c...
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, 2016, seen-movie
One example of the film being better than the book.
Neil Strauss
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I strongly recommend for those who don’t regularly read.
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
I actually read with Jim in 1996 or so. It was at Berbati's in Portland and he was very shaky and nervous. As he kept reading though, he seemed to really take off and his words soared to wonderful heights. But I may be imagining that because I was high on acid that night. Ironic, since I think Jim was actually clean.
Blake Nelson
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was so young when I first read this, I didn't know that the word "lame" was just the normal word "lame", like kids used. I thought it was a fabric or something. I wasn't used to seeing how people actually talked, printed in a BOOK.
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Jim Carroll's diary about growing up "urban" on "mean streets" is a crock of shit. He grew up with a supportive family, albeit not wealthy, and he was given opportunities other kids could only dream of. He got himself hooked on heroin and other drugs, skipped school (where he was lucky enough to be on scholarship), frequently committed robbery, burglary, armed robbery and burglary, trespassing, assault, and ended up arrested a few times and in jail at Rikers. This work isn't an achievement, it's ...more
Jodi Sh.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
life-changing if you are a writer. a junkie. or potentially one or the other.
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
In my intensity to read anything regarding the streets of New York City, I picked up this book at Alias East in Atwater Village. I have known this book for ages, but for whatever reason I had no interest in reading it. The only interest for me is New York. The drug part is not interesting to me, but i think anyone from that world or is about to go into that landscape, would probably find this book fascinating.

To me it reads like a young adult novel, or memoir. I would give this book out to
Aaron Kent
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
A perfect "street find" book and an exceptional re-read many years later. Given the current declawed condition that NYC finds itself in this book pulses with the long lost true grit that epitomized the city seen through the wild drug-addled eyes of youth.
Frank Stein
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it

The book starts out amazing, with Carroll writing in his diary as a sharp but un-selfconcious 13 year old willing to share his own mundane and amazing stories. At this point he's just a lower class Irish kid on the Lower East Side who has a talent for basketball but still spends most of his time running around shoplifting, doing drugs, and chasing girls. He relates it all with a beautiful honesty and lack of pretense. As the book progresses, though, he becomes more aware of himself as a writer
E.D. Martin
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book was insightful, in that it showed us the life of a very troubled kid in 1960's NYC. But what value is that, in that it was mostly his daily activities without any insight into why he did it? There was no growth, no reflection. No beginning, no end. This was a snapshot, not a reflection.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2,5/5. I had loved so much the movie adaptation with DiCaprio when I was young that I though this would be a great read. Unfortunately, I find it long, repetitive, and just not deep enough. It contains scene of drugs uses and basketball games and just not enough introspection has I would have like. Not what I was expecting and I was left on my appetite here...
Jul 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I kind of want to make fun of this book, so I will, momentarily: "Listen up cats and kittens, I won't jive you, if you dig a 13 year old voice that squeaks to be hip, this is the book for you. No squares allowed, dig?" This diary reads exactly what you'd expect from a posturing 13 year old - as edited by the diarist with eyes on Rimbaud and Burroughs (and the rest of the Beats) many years later. Even though this sounds dismissive, I don't want to give ol' Jim too much of a hard time because ...more
Aug 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Gonna get flamed for this one. Couldn't get through more than a couple pages at a time. Tried skipping forward, same result. Put in about 30 minutes of effort on this.

I may be confused as to what the book is supposed to be. It was my understanding that this is Carroll's actual diary from his time as a pre-teen and teen in NYC. This reads like my grandmother trying to write like a 13-year-old based upon what she has seen on Welcome Back Mr. Kotter and the Disney Channel. If this is how Mr.
Matty Lehn
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I just kept wondering where this kids parents were.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was not a fan of this book. It was too choppy for me since it was like a diary and it just didn’t have a smooth story and kept jumping around from place to place. I also didn’t like it because I couldn’t really relate at all to what he was talking about. Ya I’m a teen and I’m a fan of basketball but I don’t play it like him and I don’t do all of the crazy and hectic stuff he did and I don’t do heroin all the time and I just haven’t had the same experiences, so I wasn’t as intrigued. It also ...more
Nate D
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Probably an influential starting point of lots of grimy drug novels to follow. I have a feeling this was edited and embellished enough from its journal origins to consider it as a novel, even if the basic events are plausible enough. Still, drug diary-novels aren't really the most exciting thing to read (the patterns of an addict are almost numbingly boring), what's of interest is mostly this particular slice of seamy 70s New York, the local color, the stories true or not, and the exhilaration, ...more
Ken Collins
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
A good read for anyone who insists that crime-afflicted, tribal, racist, sexist, gay-bashing old New York was somehow superior to contemporary New York. This is the work of a third-rate Burroughs with the kind of jock-bragging that will appeal to fratboy stoners who've graduated from Hunter S. Thompson and are looking for something a bit more edgy. Diary of a Cromag covers the same turf a decade later with a more sympathetic protagonist.
Laura B.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of the movie.... I didn't realise how young Carroll was when he wrote this and honestly I you would think he was in his 30s not 13-15.
Haines Eason
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Wild and at times too incredible to believe... A sad reflection of the everywhere-implied Western adage that great suffering makes great art. Three stars for this book’s necessary privileging of content over style (it is a “journal,” after all).
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m certainly not a certified reader but this was too difficult to finish. I struggled to get half way. Not my cup of tea but I am sure lots of people love it.
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Mr. Boucher's Rea...: Reading Response: Basketball Diaries 5 15 Sep 30, 2013 01:20PM  

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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.
“It was a dream, not a nightmare, a beautiful dream I could never imagine in a thousand nods. There was a girl next to me who wasn't beautiful until she smiled and I felt that smile come at me in heat waves following, soaking through my body and out my finger tips in shafts of color and I knew somewhere in the world, somewhere, that there was love for me.” 130 likes
“Little kids shoot marbles
where the branches break the sun

into graceful shafts of light…
I just want to be pure.”
More quotes…