Monday, March 15, 2010

Just Kids - Patti Smith

In the 1960s, Patti Smith was a young woman trying to find herself in the vast New York City. Before long, Patti met Robert Mapplethorpe, a young man also trying to find himself. Together, they work to let their artistry thrive, Patti through her poetry and Robert through his drawings and photography. Their journey takes them across various 60s-70s New York City landmarks including Coney Island and the Chelsea Hotel. This is the story before the fame, when two people believed their dreams could come true...

Memoirs written by famous authors can be pretty tricky. On one hand, if you like the author, it's pretty hard not to be biased. If you have no idea who the author is, feeling an attachment to the author has to be built. This brings up the question: who is the author writing the memoir for (besides themselves)? Fans or complete strangers? If the author is writing for fans, he or she assumes the attachment is already there, so the need to write is somewhat pointless. BUT what if the memoir is written for fans, but is read by a stranger? The stranger would have a hard time liking it. This is exactly what happened to me when I was reading Just Kids.

Before reading Just Kids, I had never heard of Patti Smith or any of her songs, but I like reading about the 60s and 70s, so I thought I could end up really enjoying it. Unfortunately, Just Kids fell flat. I never built an emotional attachment to Smith, which is so important in memoirs. As a result, most of the book bored me.

There were a few good things though. Smith did an excellent job getting her love and relationship with Robert across to readers. This was pretty much Smith's purpose for writing the memoir, so kudos for that. Smith also did a wonderful job of illustrating New York City. One of my favorite locations was Max's Kansas City. I am a huge fan of the movie Almost Famous, and the restaurant is also featured in that movie, so I went giddy on the inside. Still, these good parts cannot outweigh the lack of emotional connection I felt.

I recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about Patti Smith.

Related Links
Patti Smith's Site
The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

I received this book through a Good Reads giveaway.

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