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Shit Into Gold: Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries and Forced Entries

Title Page If you want to cite this thesis, here's where you find the bibliographic information.
Table of Contents This page.

Summary of the thesis.

Chapter One

Shit Into Gold

Through writing, Carroll transforms his triumphs and his most vile experiences into poems, diaries, and songs of visionary beauty. As a writer, Carroll is an alchemist capable of transforming shit into gold.

Chapter Two

The Basketball Diaries
Writing as a Weapon
The beauty of The Basketball Diaries is its optimism: more than anything it is about the potential an individual has to transcend the victimization of a corrupt system. Carroll shows it is possible to make a difference both in the way he lives his life and by creating a better world through art.

Chapter Three

Forced Entries
Writing as Pennance
Because the writer that he is grows out of his experiencing and transforming his double life, Carroll must embrace his past and write about it. In many ways, Carroll's becoming a Writer depends first upon accepting the character identity of The Basketball Diaries then overcoming and transcending that identity to legitimize himself as an Artist. Also, he must come to terms with his addiction: he must retain enough personal control to continue writing while still "hooked."

Chapter Four

Writing as Redemption

Because Carroll revises and redefines his identity and his past with each work, a discussion of his diaries alone barely scrapes the surface in revealing his achievement as both an artist and the creator of himself. Only by appreciating the complex interplay between Carroll's songwriting, poetry, and his diaries is it possible to see to what extent, and how, Carroll has been able to revise and transform his past.

Appendix Chronology
Notes Footnotes
Bibliography Works cited

Copyright 1990 Cassie Carter. This material may not be reprinted except by permission from the author.


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