When poet, musician, and diarist Jim Carroll died in September 2009, he
was putting the finishing touches on a potent work of fiction. The Petting Zoo
tells the story of Billy Wolfram, an enigmatic thirty-eight-year-old
artist who has become a hot star in the late 1980s New York art scene.
As the novel opens, Billy, after viewing a show of Velázquez paintings,
is so humbled and awed by their spiritual power that he suffers an
emotional breakdown and withdraws to his Chelsea loft. In seclusion,
Billy searches for the divine spark in his own work and life.
novel moves back and forth in time to present emblematic moments from
Billy’s life (his Irish Catholic upbringing, his teenage escapades, his
evolution as an artist, and his meteoric rise to fame) and sharply etched
portraits of the characters who mattered most to him, including his
childhood friend Denny MacAbee, now a famous rock musician; his mentor,
the unforgettable art dealer Max Bernbaum; and one extraordinary black
Marked by Carroll’s sharp wit, hallucinatory imagery, and
street-smart style, The Petting Zoo is a frank, haunting examination of one artist’s personal and professional struggles. Download and start listening now!