Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries: 1971-1973
by Jim Carroll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed reading Jim Carroll’s movement from all out junkie in NYC to mostly clean weedhead in California then traveling back to NYC to re-experience it like a challenge he was taking on for himself in his new sparkly dried out persona. – may he rest in peace – You almost think the kid didn’t stand much of a chance, hobnobbing with celebrity at Max’s and getting dissed by Warhol over the phone, because Warhol only wanted to talk to him when he was wired on speed (and recorded these phone calls apparently). Great street level perspective of NYC in the early seventies. Jim Carroll is an brutally honest sorta writer, so be prepared to go under carpets with him and hangout with fragments of cheese doodles and mites. Or inside a festering abscess. He certainly won’t glorify substance abuse or addiction, so you don’t need to worry about your children. Or do you? I found the first half of the book a little harder to get through, a lot of socializing with Ginsberg and name dropping (though anyone could be envious to hang out with William Burroughs and Bob Dylan for a night). Sometimes I felt he was writing to impress his celebrity buds. But mostly I admire Jim Carroll, I consider him a strong writer and the survivor we know by his Basketball Diaries. This book was supposed to be a sorta sequel to that one. He didn’t stand a chance as a kid himself going deep on the streets, yet he always respected the muse and was a real creative mind, and a local new yorker in his heart. The second half of the book I found a bit clearer, more honest, and particularly his return from Bolinas to NYC. The last quarter of the book was a straight read, I hunkered down in my apartment and really got into it. It ends well, I mean, more intimate and heartfelt. A good read.
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