A diary details the events in one’s life as a series of periodic entries. The Basketball Diaries is composed of ten sections, one for each season—in some cases two seasons—from Fall 1963 to Summer 1966. Each section is composed of five to twenty-six separate entries. Most diaries are kept for personal reasons and are not intended for publication. As a result, the diarist may jump around and discuss many topics, instead of developing one major plot, as other kinds of storytellers do. At first glance, The Basketball Diaries appears to follow this episodic format, since each short entry describes a separate event. However, collectively, these entries describe Carroll’s coming-of-age transformation— from a healthy, relatively naïve juvenile delinquent into a strung-out, culturally aware, heroin-addicted criminal.

The events take place in the 1960s in New York City, primarily Manhattan, a small island that contains within its small area some of the world’s richest and poorest people. Carroll, a boy from the poor section of New York, is able to use his basketball talent to get into a local, rich private school. He also dates rich young girls, something that he says his friends from the poor part of the city would not believe. ‘‘I’m gonna bring all the dirt heads from old Madison Square Boy’s Club up here some night: they’ll freak out in one second.’’ If he were living in some other U.S. cities, where the physical distance between rich and poor is often greater, it would be harder for him to do this. In addition, New York is notorious for its high crime rate and its drug abusers. In fact, as Carroll notes, his diaries ‘‘have the greatest hero a writer needs, this...

(The entire section is 717 words.)