Sunday, March 13, 2011

LITC BOOK REVIEW: Just Kids by Patti Smith

Reviewed by Donald Quist:

Just Kids is the National Book Award winning memoir by musician, writer, artist, Patti Smith. The book's main focus is to serve as an homage to Robert Mapplethorpe, her former friend and lover, and not to mention one of the most famed photographers of all time! This book has become one of my instant favorites. Smith’s narrative voice is so strong and the relationship between her and Mapplethorpe is so compelling, I forgive her redundancy and endless name dropping. She is a braggart, offering readers a glimpse behind the velvet curtain of the arts scene in 1970’s New York, and though that is somewhat the book's biggest appeal—the sense of voyeurism and exclusivity that sells tabloids—she is sincere. I found myself immediately drawn to her vulnerability, how her words read like a letter from a really close friend. If you strip away the cameos, her story is still meaningful and hopelessly romantic. There is a line in the book where Smith, speaking about Mapplethorpe’s work, says, “His obscenity was never obscene.” Her writing is very much the same. Smith approaches even the darkest aspects of her recollections, things like carcinoma, contracting the clap, head lice, intravenous drug use and dating two male prostitutes, with the frothy poeticism one would expect from a literary romance. But that is what it is, a story about two young people in love, with their art and each other, trying to craft an identity for themselves, walking in the shadows of giants and inevitably becoming giants themselves.

Share your thoughts on Just Kids, Friday, April 8th, 2011 @ 3:30pm, as the Coker College Library hosts a public book discussion with the Chair of the Art Department, Professor Jean Grosser in Room 228.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review. I am looking forward to Friday's discussion.