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Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I preferred an artist who transformed his time, not mirrored it.", 3 April 2011
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This review is from: Just Kids (Paperback)
I was a great fan of Patti Smith in my younger days but as she has grown older she has become an example of the kind of New Age weirdness and political correctness that make my teeth grind.*

So it was with some trepidation that I picked her memoirs of her time with Robert Mapplethorpe, expecting peace and love-type psychobabble.

Instead, it was a well-written, disciplined account of her relationship with him and early life and mercifully free from her political opinions.

She also resisted the temptation to get over-emotional about some episodes in her life, such as giving away her baby daughter when she was 19, and her description of how she and Mapplethorpe went their separate ways is refreshingly sober.

Her obsession with French badboy poet Rimbaud becomes a bit tedious especially as she does not explain why he was so important to her.

Nor does she give any good reason why she and Mapplethorpe chose to live in a cramped room in the Chelsea Hotel next to the room where Dylan Thomas died.

The quality slips at times and name dropping abounds - Dylan (Bob, not the Welsh one), William Burroughs, Salvador Dali, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed and Alan Ginzburg** - but overall the book is low key, factual and fairly convincing.

There are also incisive barbs such as her comment comparing Mapplethorpe with Andy Warhol: "I preferred an artist who transformed his time, not mirrored it."

It's difficult to believe she was as innocent and naÔve as she makes out.

Patti Smith obviously regards herself as a "writer, performer and visual artist". However, as far as I am concerned she is a rock singer and will be judged as such.

I`ll never forget the impact her first album had on me when I was a student in Edinburgh in the early/mid 1970s and life was founded on rock and roll and first love.

* Check out her site if you don't believe me. ** Who thought she was a boy the first time he met her.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Dec 2011 04:54:59 GMT
mister joe says:
Great review John.Its nice to see a display of opinion rather then lavish plaudits.I very much agree with the comment about Smith being a singer.These type of artists really suffer from grand delusions of themselves,though no one is denying her talent.
For a lot of these performers ambition seems to be a dirty word,like you point out about her being as naive etc they tend to get creative/romantic with their pasts.A lot of this crowd were ambitious,able to manipulate,be in the right place etc.
Has she gone all new age?Oh dear.However i will read this book.Good stuff.

Posted on 10 Feb 2012 08:25:12 GMT
Horace Wimp says:
'I was a great fan of Patti Smith in my younger days but as she has grown older she has become an example of the kind of New Age weirdness and political correctness that make my teeth grind.'

I doubt Patti Smith has changed much. I suspect it is you that have changed (yes, i have viewed her website....seems alright). Given that this is a 4-star review, you clearly view her as a decent writer too, despite your putdown ('Patti Smith obviously regards herself as a "writer, performer and visual artist". However, as far as I am concerned she is a rock singer and will be judged as such. ' How pompous.
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Location: S„o Paulo, Brazil

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