Just Kids

Thoughts  Just Kids  by Patti Smith, Ecco (imprint of HarperCollins ) 2010, 306 pages

Interviewer:   Care, how did you hear about this book?

Care:  I think I first learned of it from Amazon; in one of those emails they regularly send to tempt me to purchase books.

Interviewer:  And then you researched it or did you instantly know you wanted to read it?

Care: I saw that it was Rock Star Patti Smith’s memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the famous photographer. It’s a National Book Award winner.

Interviewer:  Are you a Patti Smith fan or a Mapplethorpe fan, or both?

Care:  Actually, all I knew about Mapplethorpe was when his controversial photographs of nude males caused such a hullabaloo a few years ago. I’m dating myself, because the controversary about whether or not his work was pornography or ‘art’ had to have been before he died in 1989 which seems a very long time ago already, but I don’t really recall when I first heard about the artist. What I admit now, is that I had no idea that he was friends with Patti Smith. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about Ms. Smith except that she was grunge rock & roll. I’m still not sure if that description is accurate. To me, the image of Patti Smith that popped into my head was the parody of her on SNL by Gilda Radner! That was hardly flattering. I think…  I THINK, I was both shocked that Patti Smith would write a book AND that she knew Robert Mapplethorpe AND that I was obviously ignorant about a whole slice of cutting edge culture that I now want to know more about.

Interviewer:  So you bought the book.

Care:  Not at that time. I bought it at one of the GOOB sales at Borders.

Interviewer:  And now, you have added ‘Attend a Patti Smith concert” to your Bucket List on Pinterest.

Care:  Yes. I’m fascinated by her. I admire her. I think she is incredible. She has endeared herself to me and I think experiencing her art would be a tremendous thrill. I will probably buy her Horses CD and give it to myself for Christmas.

Interviewer:  So why did you give this book only 3 stars?

Care:  Oh. You saw that, did you?  Yes, well, I don’t really recall exactly and I was hoping you wouldn’t bring that up. Let me please reiterate that a three star rating is GOOD. That I liked it. A three star rating is not something to be sorry for. Why do I have to justify this? OK, I’ll try anyway. If I had a rating scale for various categories of things I like/love/hate etc about a book, then this book hits many HIGHs and a few lows and so in average, three stars. I liked it.  (My ratings are for me.)

What I liked most was how it was a glimpse into a life I will never see. How courageous and independent and soulful Patti is. How she had fears and doubts but living true to her ideals was her utmost priority.

Current photo of Patti Smith found here on her website.

What I liked least was the ‘lack’. And even in that, I have to admire it as artistic story telling.  Most of the lacks I cite are mine which made me frustrated with myself, I suppose, but also good in that I now have lots more things to learn.  A lack of knowing a ton of names!  A lack of going in a direction I wanted to know more about.  A lack of my knowledge of New York City.  A lack of photos online when I googled ‘how did such&such hotel look then and now’, etc.

Interviewer:  and did you run to google a lot to look up stuff you didn’t know?

Care:  Yes. A LOT. I was very fascinated. I spent almost as much time online looking stuff up than I did reading this book!  And so this book could deserve 5 stars for provoking intense curiosity. Crazy things; she had an affair with Sam Shepard! the actor guy who plays admirable men in movies and is married to Jessica Lange?! WHAT?! and she bumped into Jimi Hendrix – HUH?!?!  and Grace Slick!  just amazing. The whole Warhol thing. That she bought and sold rare editions of classic books and sometimes it was lucky she found such so she could buy food to eat.

Interviewer:  But what about Mapplethorpe?

Care:  A beautiful tragic love story? They were friends — true friends and that is quite beautiful. I can’t say I am any more interested in him than I was before.  I was much more enthralled with the Patti Smith personality.

Interviewer:  Who would you recommend this book to?

Care:  Anyone who loves art and poetry. Anyone who appreciates true love stories and realizes that life sometimes sucks. Anyone who has interest in the history of rock and roll music.  Anyone who enjoys memoirs/biographies of extraordinary people.  And NewYorkCity-ophiles.

Interviewer:   In five words, describe this book.

Care:  Fascinating, passionate, endearing, heavy, surprising.

Interviewer:   Do you have any reviews elsewhere in blogland to point to?

Care:  Yes, I recommend a wonderful review by Beth Fish Reads as well as Books are My Boyfriends’ enthusiastic take on it. And there’s always Fyrefly’s awesome search engine for book bloggers reviews.

Interviewer:  Anything else you want to share?

Care:  Nope. Thank you for helping me with this post. Oh! I am counting this for a challenge; it fits the LIFE STAGE category for What’s in a Name 4.

Interviewer:  You’re most welcome. Have a nice day.


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