Form and Content

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Stop-Time is a fictionalized account of the early life of its author. It ends as he emerges into young adulthood, after his acceptance at Haverford College. Between a prologue and epilogue which together form a distinct suspended narrative, Conroy offers twenty chapters that primarily focus on early adolescence. Each chapter is named for one of its images or scenes. While one event or image gives unity to each chapter, chapters may also include events or impressions that are thematically, rather than dramatically, related. The chapter “Nights Away from Home,” for example, revolves around the adolescent Frank’s attempt to run away from New York to his childhood world of Florida, but that narrative is interspersed with other recollections of nocturnal alienation and disorientation, some of them quite fragmentary and devoid of narrative context.

Conroy begins and ends the account of his childhood and adolescence within a frame, presumably located in the present. The writer, now married and living in England, appears to have secured a calm and productive life. Yet he is addicted to wild, dangerous drives in the country. Once or twice weekly he compulsively races without headlights through the streets of South London, driving his Jaguar alone through the English countryside at speeds of more than one hundred miles per hour: “anything at all,” he says, “to keep the speed, to maintain the speed and streak through the dark world.” At the end of his story, the speaker again describes the nighttime drives and ends with a near-death collision....

(The entire section is 641 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Dienstag, Eleanor. Review in The New York Times Book Review. LXXII (November 12, 1967), p. 22.

Eakin, Paul John. Fictions in Autobiography: Studies in the Art of Self-Invention, 1985.

Jenks, Tom. “How Writers Live Today,” in Esquire. CIV (August, 1985).

Jonker, Howard. Review in Newsweek. LXX (November 6, 1967), p. 96.

Tanner, Tony. City of Words: American Fiction, 1950-1970, 1971.