Feb 272012

Wow, talk about a pretentious, name-dropping, blowhard.

Previously (aka “Machinery, you ignorant slut!”)


  13 Responses to “Book Review: Patti Smith’s Just Kids

  1. schneids

    that’s not cool, man.

  2. I’ll bite. I guess I never got around to writing up a review of this book. I loved it – and I was surprised that I loved it. It did help that I had just seen Patti Smith in concert for the first time, where she read an excerpt from the book and convinced me, once and for all, that the power of her presence alone is key to her work as an artist. I felt the book was true to her presence/spirit and true to a creative person’s personal quest/artistic development. I may not have cared for all the creative paths she took and still only care so much about where her journey has led her, but I thought she did a great job of expressing her trip, if that makes sense. I didn’t feel she was name-dropping for name-dropping’s sake.

  3. I liked, but did not love this book. I think I was kinda expecting it to peak in intensity at the end, like a Patti Smith song would. But it seemed to just trail off instead. Maybe she shouldn’t have opened the book with Mapplethorpe’s death before spinning back to her childhood.

    Anyway, most of the connections she made with famous New Yorkers seemed too meaningful to just be namedropping. I found it interesting how all these seemingly disparate characters were actually in pretty close proximity to each other. Also, I understand more how a punk icon like Smith could also revere unpunks like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jerry Garcia. She really does view ’60s-rock-into-punk as a continuum.

  4. Also, I highly recommend Will Hermes’ Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, which covers New York music (not just rock) from ’73 to ’77. Alexmagic got it for me for Christmas!

  5. Trolling? Here?
    I read the entire book on 2 connecting flights; East Coast to Hawaii and was caught by the same fact as Oats mentions; Patti was an artistically inclined child of the ’60’s that was in place to make a musical change in the late 70’s. I never took her namedropping as pretension since she seems so inspired and immersed in her scene. I look forward to reading her next book about roughly the same scene: http://www.amazon.com/Coral-Sea-Patti-Smith/dp/0393341356/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330362519&sr=1-5

  6. machinery

    Ok, ok, the review was a little harsh. But it came on the heels of reading the the part where she went to Paris to the Rimbaud museum — what she picked out from the cool thrift store, who gave her what talisman to bring along for strength, what book of Beudelaire poetry she brought (first edition, no less) that she got at the Strand book store and the glass beads from India to place on Morrison’s tombstone. And when she got there how she sat on the floor with her Indian ink and quill listening to the rain as she attempted to call up the ghosts of Rimbaud and Verlain for inspiration. Blah, blah, blah … I had had enough!!!

    You guys don’t find this just a bit, umm, affected?

    Oh, and did she have to mention every f’n luminary who sat front row at CBGB’s???

    It got a little much and I just wanted the book to end. If she were telling you this at a party you’d have to walk away.

    I totally romanticize this period and think it would be my time-machine destination. I started out liking the book. It just grew very thin.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Mr. Royale just finished it and also would give it a big thumb’s up. His one sentence review: “It’s like when life bloomed in the Cambrian age, but in NY.”

  8. ladymisskirroyale

    I appreciate Patti Smith more than I like her. We saw her live several years ago and I was really impressed by her delivery, her band, her immersion in the music. But some of my positive feelings for her were confounded when I heard her interviewed about this book by a local PBS interviewer in my area. Despite the great lengths she goes to share very intimate personal details, she just about (verbally) tore the head off the male interviewer when he (politely and tentatively) asked her about her current feelings for some of her more youthful experiences. I thought that was pretty two-faced of her. Geez Patti, you can’t have it both ways: you can’t bare your soul about abortions, adoptions, lovers, etc and then scream when someone asks you how you feel about it x years later?! Even those with an “artistic temperament” don’t need to resort to that level of diva-dom.

  9. tonyola

    While Patti Smith has her place in history, I’ve always been put off a little bit by her self-consciously arty “lookit me, I’m a trashed-out rock-and-roll primitive” pose. Anyone remember Gilda Radner’s famous parody of Smith on SNL?

  10. I was able to tune those parts out, but sure, I can see how they could get incredibly annoying.

  11. Candy Slice was funny, but I don’t think “trashed-out” was ever a fair part of her perceived pose. Without getting into her personal drug-taking history or anything, I think her Wild Child stance did and was meant to come from the “visionary power” fueling her music, including Jim Morrison’s leather pants and all that French poetry stuff that many of us find off-putting.

  12. BigSteve

    I wasn’t expecting to read this book, because I haven’t liked any of Patti’s albums since she returned from exile. Someone I trust said he thought I should read it, and I loved it much more than I was expecting to. The early parts where she is writing about her life before she left for NYC were the best. But the book is about her relationship with Mapplethorpe, and that worked, even when the catalog of her connections to every hip person of any consequence got tiring. I thought the ending was very moving. In other words I do not recommend reading it when you’re in a public place like on the bicycle at the gym. Sure she’s pretentious sometimes, but I don’t see how you can be a great artist without risking that.

  13. High five! (And remember this as we most likely kick the crap out of each other over the Smiths…again.)

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