Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Book: Just Kids

The only New Year's Resolution I made for 2011 was to read more. And this was a good way to get started; Patti Smith's Just Kids, written about her close friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe from her late teens and beyond. Don't worry, this won't be a review or give away any of the stories as I'm only halfway through, though I'm having trouble getting anything else done with it sat next to me on my bedside table, creeping into my vision every time I try to finish chores.

Unsurprisingly, Patti's stories are as beautifully written as her songs. I've always felt that she has the rare ability to express herself in so many different ways, through her art, music and poetry, and to do all three so extremely well is a very special talent.

She talks about her childhood, of playing soldiers with her siblings, and later of her move to New York - completely alone - with nothing but a waitressing uniform given to her by her mother, and her wild imagination. Unafraid to be brutally honest but never scorning her younger self, Patti takes us back to her young awakening; an understanding that companionship and creativity meant much more than the amount of change in her pocket.

I'm now on page 112 and she's only beginning to talk about music in terms of the maker rather than listener. Despite knowing how it's all going to end, as Patti's fascinating stories swerve between good and bad luck, Seventies' New York climbs out of the pages in all its dark, hopeful, all-consuming brilliance.

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