The beginning of the book was strong, and I found myself (as a Gen-Xer) relating to much of it. It's humbling when you think you are so unique, and thThe beginning of the book was strong, and I found myself (as a Gen-Xer) relating to much of it. It's humbling when you think you are so unique, and then read statistics that describe yourself so accurately. But the 2nd half of the book lost me. I felt she didn't own her fault in her divorce (4 years of living separate lives, and she didn't see a problem?) and tried to gloss over the affect it will have on her own children. The premise - "In spite of everything" - that she ended up getting a divorce, but that somehow she made different choices than her parents; that she found a way to do it in a less-damaging way - wasn't proven. I cringed as I read about the post-divorce situation. And the final chapter seemed to candy coat where everyone ended up - trying to put a "happily ever after" where one doesn't exist. The honesty in the first half was lost when she became an active participant in her choices, rather than a victim of others'. ...more
The beginning was very good, but once it got to the Hotel Chelsea part, it lost me, and I sped through the rest hoping it would get as good as the begThe beginning was very good, but once it got to the Hotel Chelsea part, it lost me, and I sped through the rest hoping it would get as good as the beginning again. Too much name dropping, and kind of a weird assumption by Patti Smith that she's just this ordinary person. Maybe that's how she feels, but to read "I hung out in the hotel lobby and William Burroughs asked about my poetry" (paraphrasing) as though she's talking about doing the dishes doesn't feel right.
It really is a book about Mapplethorpe, not about herself. But then it is not in depth about Mapplethorpe at all, since we only hear about him second hand and a lot of what he experienced and was inspired by wasn't explored. She was puzzled by his homosexuality, and tried not to think about it. Wait - she's living with him, in love with him, and he goes out "hustling" (making money as a male prostitute), and she's just like "whatever"? I'll keep the bed warm for when you get home? I would have like to have read exactly how that conversation went. Were things really so different in that time, or in that circle of people that this was no big deal? Just what men did in New York to make ends meet?
So, it's not really a book about Mapplethorpe (since we don't really get a sense of who he was, and miss huge parts of his life; from when Patti and he split until he's dying and she goes to see him). And it's not really a book about Patti Smith (since it doesn't tell much about her own rise to fame or relationships outside of Robert). It's a book about the two of them together. A love story about her first love. Told very romantically, leaving out any luridness. Which I can respect, by the way, since those type of details are none of my business.
So, what I liked: I really got the sense of New York, struggling artists, the scene they were in. Her writing captured that well. And she's a better writer than most who write a memoir. ...more
What I learned from this book: You can be an awful person as long as you have a horrible mother to blame it on. Also, I'm pretty sure she was proud ofWhat I learned from this book: You can be an awful person as long as you have a horrible mother to blame it on. Also, I'm pretty sure she was proud of all her sexual exploits; it read like bragging to me. Bad mom, but there have been worse, and not much sympathy for daughter. Why do I read these trashy memoirs??...more
The book started slow, and I had to force myself to keep going, but my Virgo nature made me commit to the 100 page rule. By 100 pages I was sucked in.The book started slow, and I had to force myself to keep going, but my Virgo nature made me commit to the 100 page rule. By 100 pages I was sucked in. Although Kingsolver got a little preachy and some of the conversations between characters were so transparently trying to convince the reader of Kingsolver's point, the book still worked as a whole; believable sympathetic characters, interesting structure, thematically strong and coherent.
I enjoyed the structure; one summer, so when the summer ends, the book ends. Although it's pretty clear what's happening next in the lives of the characters, the book just stops, when it could have kept going - meaning, theoretically, there could have been more to tell of these character's stories. And I liked the characters, even though I was a little tiny bit annoyed by the predictable ending, so totally would have kept reading about what happens to them next. Three strong points of view - Nature newbie, Nature recluse and Old fogie forced to adapt to new ways.
The theme is so strong, it hits you over the head repeatedly, but since I liked the theme I didn't mind the pummeling. (Cyclical aspect of nature, preditor/prey, mating and reproduction, human as animal rather than above animal, humans shouldn't mess too much with things, NATURE NATURE NATURE). ...more
I don't know what I expected, but this wasn't really it. I guess I thought it would be funnier, more mocking of the self-help stuff, since I think theI don't know what I expected, but this wasn't really it. I guess I thought it would be funnier, more mocking of the self-help stuff, since I think the attitude of the author is the same as mine and most people I know who were raised in a certain era, in a certian geography. Basically, Beth is a hipper version of myself, but I would have been way more judgey and sarcastic than she is. She makes such an earnest effort to keep an open mind in each area, which is laudable, but most of the sections just come down to her summerizing the philosophy of whatever she's doing that month. Kind of helpful if I was looking for a guide into which self-help guru I should try, but not totally successful as entertainment. By the end, I felt involved, because by then it seemed she was exposing a little more of her personal journey, and it did seem like she had learned something over the year.
The best chapter was the cruise with Richard Simmons, which is funny because it makes me wonder if cruises are just so ripe for the picking that anything written about them is going to be entertaining and funny. And now I totally want to meet Richard Simmons, who seems like such a great person. Of course the gold standard there is David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" which is fall off your chair funny, and depressing and totally descriptive of the sarcastic, jaded, cynical attitude of mine alluded to above. The author knows her cruise bit will be compared to his, and waves the white flag right away by siting Wallace's essay in her chapter.
Although I appreciate her attempt to not be mocking or mean, a lot of the power was lost by trying to just state the facts. I mean, I think it's OK to say viewing everyone you meet is a blessing IS better than viewing everyone you meet as an opportunity to get ahead. And maybe taping a $100,000 bill over your bed to look at every morning might take away focus from some of the better things of life. See, there I go being judgey.......more
**spoiler alert** What the hell is a "String T-Shirt" and why is everyone in Riverside wearing one? All I can picture is those ugly 80's muscle T's. O**spoiler alert** What the hell is a "String T-Shirt" and why is everyone in Riverside wearing one? All I can picture is those ugly 80's muscle T's. Or a net tank top, which is equally silly, and I doubt worn by many LA junkies in the 2000's. Anyhoo.... I agree with other's reviews that this book seemed more like a long brag session than any insight into addiction. I still don't know what compelled him to fall so far, and it sounds like his finally going straight was mostly accidental. I felt the youth of the author was obvious; the book is completely lacking in wisdom.
The value of this book: I have encountered junkies and cranksters. I've read the horrible poetry, I've had an uncle who heard voices, had a porn addiction, and ended up shooting himself in the head. Even though I wanted to know more about what drove the addiction, what the drug actually feels like; what it provides for the addict, at least the scenes described were authentic, and I can understand my friend's/uncle's compulsions a bit more.
Finally, I found this book in the Young Adult section of the library, and have to say I'm going to be careful at what age I let my girls begin to peruse the Young Adult books; come on - shooting up in his dick? Anal sex with a crack whore? Honestly, if my daughters want to read about addiction, I'd rather they read A Million Little Pieces, even if they need to read it as a novel rather than a memoir. That book is a much better written portrait of addiction/recovery, but it's in the Adult section. I wonder what's the difference? The cynic in me thinks the publisher knows the book is lacking compared to other books in the genre, so is trying to market it as a young adult book so that it won't have to compete with those better books. But this would mean we are introducing our younger readers to crap! Or, is the Young Adult section actually geared to 17-25 year olds? I remember looking for books there when I was 10.... Is 10 too young to read the ugliness in this book?...more