Friday, December 16, 2011

Just KidsJust Kids by Patti Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”
--Jack Kerouac

This is a dual biographer of the rock star, poet and artist Patti Smith and the photographer and artist Robert Maplethorpe.

The first portion of this book, poignantly portraying struggling young artists Patti and Robert broke, hungry and totally committed to art reminds me of this quotation. They both have a touching willingness to sacrifice most everything that is conventionally treasured: even an acceptance of autotomy if it leads to autonomy. They both share a deep bond of struggle that is never broken, of understanding, first as lovers, then as friends. In autobiography there is always the possibility of the dual self, the self that looks back, and she has a compassion and understanding for both their younger selves, that both admits their and admires their idealism and naivete. They have the good fortune to be in a nexus of places where many famous, artists, actors, playwrights, and musicians pass by. Later on, all the while encountering an amazing cast of the famous and almost famous, those who make it, those who survive and those who don't, both Patti and Robert become successful and famous themselves. Without being much of a spoiler, the dual biography ends on a very sad note, redeemed by love.

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