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"I preferred an artist who transformed his time, not mirrored it."
, 3 April 2011
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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