Review of Void of Course
Jim Carroll. Penguin, $12.95 paper (l28p) ISBN 0-14-058909-0
alternately self-exposing and swaggering Bukowskian diarist, Carroll
reinforces his rock-star-like pop culture niche with his latest
volume of poetry, which somewhat resembles a compilation of power
ballads. Given that Carroll's fame was established by the beloved
1970's memoir of drug addiction The Basketball Diaries,
it makes sense that his poetry works to further the author's forever
young and ostensibly hip public image, as in this ode to the late
Kurt Cobain: "You should have talked more with the monkey! He's
always waiting to negotiate! I'm still paying him off...But Kurt...!
Didn't the thought you'd never write! another song! Another feverish
line or riff! Make you think twice?" Carroll runs through a whole
gamut of classic rock-star stances in this volume, from the maudlin
lover of beauty and love ("You squeeze out the life and poison.!
Tightly your pale thin thighs your thick hare lips! last night,
our mouths meeting,! it was all we ever wanted to know about the
truth") to the dancefloor ("all the young boys were gyrating")
to the cocksure hombre who can face down even death. While he
references writers Frank O'Hara, Jean Genet and Rimbaud throughout.
it may be Carroll's own precarious presence on the scene that
gives star power to his pathos, no less winning for its slack
charm: "It could be a smudge from the inky thumb! Of a slack X-ray
technician! It could be the radiant image! of a tumor on my lung...
Monday, I'll learn.! I think I should stick around, you know?"
© 1998 Cahners Publishing Company