Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Basketball Diaries

The pretty guy in the corner is telling a pretty good tale about how he and his friend managed to insult some Brits in Thailand, and ended up running for their lives, chased by a pack of wild dogs and wilder Geordies. He's mid-sentence when our book-club leader leans forward and declaims "Oh my God! That's the second person I've seen walk in with a didgeridoo. Oh wait, carry on. It's not a didgeridoo." It's also the second time that she'd interrupted the "story about a fucked-up friend" that she'd demanded at gun point a few minutes previously. I try hard not to roll my eyes. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Boerum Hill book club.

We're supposed to be talking about Jim Carroll's Basketball Diaries, but it's clearly a thinly veiled excuse to air provocatively dirty laundry, and bully everyone else into doing the same. For a group of twenty and thirty-somethings there's a real heady whiff of the school locker rooms about it as, largely unbidden, people take turns to boast of their sexual exploits, law-breaking and myriad and multi hued episodes of wastedness. Smiling, smiling, smiling, I feel like I'm stuck in my own episode of wastedness. I begin to suspect that hell might be one giant book club, where the sinners never get round to talking about the book.

Trying to steer the conversation away from strap-ons and vomit(since I'm determined to finish my over-priced and suspiciously creamy cocktail) I ask whether the vivid story-telling of the book, with its diary format, reminded anyone of the blogosphere. The answer was fast and unanimous.
"No. I would never read a blog." There's a veritable Mexican wave of literary shuddering.
For the first time that night I flash them all a genuine smile, and set to work on my character assassinations.
Safe as houses. Safe as houses.

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