Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos
Hole in My Life is a beautifully written autobiography of a young man inspired to write who falls into the trap of easy money. In his youth Gantos struggles with his desire for something raw and interesting to write about and his lack of funding for school. When a seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make some easy cash and make his way to New York, the mecca for writers, Gantos jumps at the opportunity without thinking through the consequences of his actions and eventually lands himself in prison.
In this book I loved the way that Gantos uses his love for literature to shape his overall life experiences. In the beginning of the novel as a young man he reads coming-of-age literature like Jack Keroac’s On the Road to help him better understand himself both as a man and as a writer. When he travels off to sea he devours books about life on the ocean for inspiration in his journey. And finally in his dark days heading off to prison he reads prison literature as an initiation to prison life. His reading evolution serves as a written soundtrack to his life and I loved the way that Gantos weaves his favorite literature into this narrative.
This book serves as a cautionary tale for youth who might seek the easy way out, but it is also a wonderful coming-of-age novel in itself where we see Gantos grow from a precocious youth into a very self-realized man. Gantos’ writing is poetic and easy to read and I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. I highly recommend this book.