Tuesday, November 6, 2012

» Stop-time


  • Veröffentlicht am: 1967
  • Anzahl der Produkte: 1
  • Einband: Gebundene Ausgabe


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5Reason for Title, Maybe?
Von Ein Kunde
Stop Time is excellent. It's decades ahead of the current mob of confessional autobiographies. I read it in almost one sitting. Not only does the author write gripping episodes, he writes them beautifully. I noticed that on about a dozen occasions he slips from past to present tense. Each time, it seems to be related to a dreamlike state, a semiconscious state, a state of high emotion, or a state of intense action. When I see that Conroy has edited "Best" stories from the Iowa Review, I have to assume he really knows his stuff. Highly recommended.

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
5Rich, satisfying memoir
Von Tyler Smith
Few autobiographies that I have read match the power of this one. It manages to communicate the loneliness and isolation of youth and young adulthood, yet as a commentator on the book has correctly noted, it is free of self-pity or sentimentality.

Like another great coming-of-age memoir, Richard Wright's "Black Boy," Conroy's work is a powerful rebuttal to romantic evocations of childhood. His was a life of rootlessness, occasional random (and inexplicable) violence and long stretches of boredom. Mental illness and instability seemed never to be far from his doorstep.

Conroy doesn't shy away from describing any of this, or the effects that his difficult home life and environment had on him. In a powerful early scene, he describes joining in a boarding school attack on a vulnerable classmate. There are overtones of "Lord of the Flies," but the most effective -- and chilling -- quality of his description of the event is its tone of dispassion. For example, he tells of eagerly awaiting his chance to get a clean, unmolested shot at the kid, but then admits that the actual punch was disappointing, not what he thought it would be. This recitation of events is transmitted to us through the mind of the boy, not as a narrator who looks back, eager for the chance to justify or explain his motivation.

But "Stop-Time" is elevated even further by Conroy's ability to capture moments of childhood magic (even though they are often leavened with disappointment). For example, there is a great chapter on his sudden obsession with learning how to do tricks with a yo-yo; another memorable sequence of scenes describes the uninhibited pleasure of driving bumper cars and partaking of a carnival's tawdry pleasures. Still, at the end of the carnival sequence, Conroy injects a note of menace, a recurring technique that emphasizes a key theme of the book: children, even in their happiest moments, are always moving toward the shadowy and dangerous landscape of adulthood.

There are far too may great sections of this book to do it justice in a brief review. Suffice it to say that "Stop-Time" will deliver bittersweet pleasures, no matter how many times the reader returns to it.

1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich.
5Some things DON'T change; this is still a great read!
Von Ein Kunde
I've read a lot of books- more than average, I think- not only because I like reading, but also because my job used to require that I read widely, even if not always well. There is an inevitable Ho-Hum effect when quantity outweighs quality as the basis for reading consumption, but a few stay in the mind, refusing to be speed-read or scanned, clamouring for due attention and recognition. 'Stop-Time', written in 1967, is such a book- the kind of book you find youself slowing over, deliberately postponing its all-too-near conclusion.

My own copy was sent in a box of mixed material to be reviewed for `Idiom', the magazine of an Australian English Teachers Association,in 1987. The biography was, then, already twenty years old, yet I can remember being astonished by the newness of the described experiences, the total relevence I sensed to the existences of the adolescents with whom I was working. Needing confirmation of such a strong reaction to this 'classic memoir of adolescence', a time of life I had left far behind and may, indeed, have forgotten, I discarded the book within reach of my nineteen-yearold son, the bibliokleptic one. Three weeks later, the surgical procedure required to retrieve it from his predominantly female University household was worthy of the Mayo Clinic... proof, too, for me, that my first impressions had been valid. When noone wanted to give the book back, I knew it had passed its ultimate test.

And the book continues to entertain, involving the reader to the extent that pages and sections need to be reread for more and more satisfaction, yielding, each time, greater insight and additional enjoyment. There is variety in this book- an incredible range of entrapped experiences that alternately horrify, amuse and educate. And often, so often, there is that flash of recognition- the familiar 'I have been there, too' sensation, as we identify with the author, which signals really great writing.

'The classic memoir of adolescence' , this book has been subtitled, and what a growing-up Frank Conroy is able to relive for us. Through a variety of schools, beginning with the ultimate in progressive education, (check out how the school solved the smoking problem!) detouring slightly via a training school for the intellectually handicapped, where his mother and stepfather were employed, into a state-managed high school and on to an International School in Denmark, the author makes his way from uneasy childhood through the agonizing process of sexual and emotional maturing, to his first day at Haverford College, at which point the odyssey ends abruptly. Too abruptly, I decided,for his adventures stayed long in my mind, and I found myself wanting to know more of his life. Could a sequel be arranged, I wondered then? Well, it couldn't apparently. Though I pestered book suppliers for years, his next, `Midair', finally arriving from America, turned out, disappointingly, to be a book of skillfully drawn short stories, great reading, in the `New Yorker' style, but NOT the sequel I had so eagerly anticipated . I wondered, perhaps, if, like some returned World War 2 Airmen I know, his adolescence, like their war service, had been the peak of experience from which everything else had descended...that he had nothing else to say to us! But not so! There is another book and I'm reading it now, with so much pleasure. that I find myself, at times, quite moist-eyed, and I am reading so slowly, because I NEVER want to finish it...the writing is so very GOOD....not just skillful, you understand....but the old Australian `BLOODY GOOD!!', which is about as high a tribute as a native Oz reader can bestow!

So that will be my next review, of course, but having the new book, (which I MUST buy; this is a library copy), made me go back to look at `Stop-Time' again. Ten years down the track, it is ALMOST as good as I remember it, but now that I've met the author again, with thirty years honing his trade behind him, I can see the patchy writing in places in this first attempt, the slight lack of cohesion between chapters...the polish that his writing shows now not having been achieved, quite, in 1967. Yet it could be that it is this very this lack of sophisticated technique which gives this biography its strength, its veracity. It is, somehow, slightly AWKWARD.......and isn't that what adolescence is all about?

In my opinion Frank's story is as vital and valid today as it was in 1967, and well worth reading! But keep it away from your teenagers.....or your copy will be as defaced, dogeared and discoloured as mine.

Robin Knight

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» Stop-time Reviewed by Lek on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Rating: 4.5


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