The publication of Jim Carroll’s diary, entitled The Basketball Diaries: Age Twelve to Fifteen (1978), had been eagerly awaited. The book, which is generally referred to by its main title alone, had started appearing in excerpt form throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s in various literary publications. Carroll claimed that the diaries were written at the time in which the events related took place. However, some critics wondered how much the diaries were edited before publication, especially since the book includes many outrageous incidents. Regardless of its authenticity, the book made a statement when it was published. Some people at that time were glorifying the image of life in the 1960s urban counterculture. Carroll’s gritty diary was explicit; it took readers inside the real world of drug addiction, male prostitution, and crime in 1960s New York.
The book also discussed what life was like for war babies—people who grew up under the constant fear of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War—and the difficulty in remaining neutral in the 1960s antiwar debate. The Basketball Diaries has become Carroll’s best-known work, especially after the release of a 1995 film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1987, Carroll published a sequel, Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971–73.