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Extended Audio Sample The Petting Zoo: A Novel, by Jim Carroll Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (298 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jim Carroll Narrator: Scott Bric Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

Carroll’s 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 bird.

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A heartfelt portrait of a New York original by a New York original.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Introspective, observant, and, at times, quite hilarious, this is a fitting culmination of Carroll’s life’s work.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lisa Lewis | 2/16/2014

    " I picked up this book when I noticed the author was Jim Carroll - being a former 80s punk rock girl, of course I thought he was so cool. The book was a surprise - it pulls you into the mind of an artist, complete with his illusions and anxieties, and was a bit of work to get through but very interesting along the way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Susie Sentevski | 2/12/2014

    " The disorganization and unpolished passages of this book are distracting, for sure, but they are also expected considering, as other reviewers have noted, that this work was in draft form when Carroll passed away. Conceptually, the book is wonderful - a deep look at the relationship between the creative process and the broken mind. Unfortunately, I'm not sure Carroll executed the project with his characteristic, imagery-heavy finesse. With a collection of the most verbose characters I believe I've ever encountered - heavy dialogue that goes on for *pages,* my goodness - I found myself missing the beautifully constructed imagery and sharp phrasing that makes Carroll's work so delicious. His genius is the ease with which he guides readers through evocative and haunting passages, and that is missing from The Petting Zoo. What he does well here, though, is demonstrate the dimensions of the creative mind... particularly those involved in the brutal longing to satiate the artistic monster inside once it has bitten the hand that feeds it. Don't make this introspective novel either the first or the last Jim Carroll work you touch. Read it somewhere in the middle. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Celine | 2/11/2014

    " I really loved the book in the beginning but it started to trail off in the end. I did read the entire book but wasn't too happy with the ending or even how the last few chapters were written. Oh, well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Reid Nichols | 2/11/2014

    " Good book! There is something about an artist's final works that draws me in. Carroll wrote this book just before passing away. I'll ruin it for you, the main character passes away too. As you might imagine, Carroll poured all the spirituality he must have been considering into the book. It isn't religious, just spiritual- and done with great style. "

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