Hole in My Life
Gantos, J. (2002). Hole in My Life. Canada: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. ISBN: 0374399883.
"Reading On the Road, I felt more like Sal Paradise than Dean Moriarty. Sal was in love with everything and everybody. His eyes were as wide and open as his heart. But, Dean confused me. He just wanted to consume everything. He had to keep moving like a shark, and in the end he was a tragic ghost of a person instead of a stream of milky way jazz under open highways. I wanted to move like Dean, but I wanted Sal's heart and soul." page 41
"It seemed to me that no amount of forgiveness would ever wash away his need to be forgiven every day. He reminded me of the Flannery O'Connor story I loved, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," where the Misfits shoots the hugely annoying grandmother to death and then says she would be a good woman, if somebody had been there to shoot her every minute of her life." -page30
Jack Gantos is an aspiring writer that doesn't have a high enough GPA or the money to go to a college he wants to in order to pursue creative writing. In order to raise that money he is offered a deal where if he assists in smuggling and selling hashish he will get 10,000 dollars and can pursue his dream of being a creative writer, and have some interesting material to write about. Unfortunately, he gets caught smuggling hashish and must go to jail and serve six years in a federal prison.
This short book is the memoir of Jack Gantos. It does not concentrate as much on his time in prison, but on his drug smuggling adventure and explores his aspirations to be a writer. There are a lot of reference to modern literature that the author is able to relate to. For instance, there are a few references to Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which is a pivotal piece of beatnik, outsider literature. This memoir is very interesting because it reveals insecurities and desires that I feel most "artsy, creative writer" types would be able to enjoy.
The memoir is told through self reflection and journal entries that Jack made while smuggling hashish. There is nothing hard or flawed about this character, instead he is reflective and sensitive. Also, this book does not demonize young people who experiment with drug use and drinking alcohol. Instead it provides a very humanist perspective that those activities do take place amongst young adults and it does not necessarily mean that one is an addict or doomed.
Jack is reckless at times, but ultimately wants to live an adventurous life and develop creative material for his writing. I think this book would be a good read for both young men and women. As someone in their late 20's I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to friends my age. I remember thinking that Jack's story did remind me of Kerouac's On the Road, but Jack Ganto's is a loving character that is full of life and not just consuming carnal pleasures (which I found to be the case when reading On the Road years ago). Also, Gantos's thoughts are well organized and poetic at times, whereas I found On the Road to read more like a poetic prose written by a kid with severe ADD. So, I somewhat consider this book to be a more modern and relatable On the Road for today's young adults, and I think reading this memoir would introduce them to other classic outsider authors that Gantos name drops throughout the book.
A good read, and highly recommended to everyone. :)
After penning a number of novels for preteens, including the Joey Pigza books and the Jack series, Gantos makes a smooth transition as he addresses an older audience. He uses the same bold honesty found in his fiction to offer a riveting autobiographical account of his teen years and the events may well penetrate the comfort zone of even the most complacent young adults. The memoir begins with the dramatic image of the author as a young convict ("When I look at my face in the photo I see nothing but the pocked mask I was hiding behind"). The book then goes on to provide an in-depth examination of the sensitive and intelligent boy residing behind a tough facade. Inspired by the words and lives of some of his favorite American authors, Gantos sought adventure after leaving high school. He eagerly agreed to help smuggle a shipment of hashish from Florida to New York without giving thought of the possible consequences. Knowing that the narrator is destined to land in jail keeps suspense at a high pitch, but this book's remarkable achievement is the multiple points of view that emerge, as experiences force a fledgling writer to continually revise his perspective of himself and the world around him. The book requires a commitment, as it rambles a bit at times, but it provides much food for thought and fuel for debate. It will leave readers emotionally exhausted and a little wiser.
I am a children's librarian who read this book and could hardly put it down. I read my (non children's librarian) husband a couple of paragraphs, and he grabbed it the second I was done. He inhaled it and gave it to his best friend, who does not read children's books. The best friend loved it and cannot understand why it is called a young adult novel. He thinks it is great reading for everyone! A wonderful read by an intriguing, and obviously stubborn and incredibly gifted human being.
-Amazon Reader's Review