Just Kids by Patty Smith

I admit, I never listened to her music, or saw any of her drawings, or ingested any of her art in any form, until I read Just Kids, her memoir. It's so wonderful and I'm now fully convinced of her authenticity as a literary artist. Her writing is  lyrical and concise, two qualities that rarely co-exist. She writes with such economy about such huge subjects;pregnancy, art, growing up, drugs, having children, death, ghosts are all treated to her plain, straightforward prose, spiked with adjectives or just the right allusions, only when absolutely necessary. There is no adornment, only a vividness, almost akin to what a musician would call pitch. She has perfect pitch  for her own experience and the kaleidoscopic ingestion of her times. More than that, we're treated to various ideas about what makes art or an artist--hard work, poverty (or money) extreme desire to be one, that elusive thing, talent--are all up for grabs. It's also a love story of sorts between she and Robert Maplethorpe and she makes it clear it's a love story in a conventional sense about a boyfriend and girlfriend once upon a time, and also about being in love with one's vocation. He and she both must make things. They are constantly creating. He does it with a total sense of grandiosity and destiny and she--and we believe her in this--because she simply has to make things. She's also subject to ego, particularly when she falls into being a musician, but is still remarkably humble. I really liked her and love this very sweet, elegant, heartbreaking book.

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