Colleen O'Neill Conlan's Reviews > Woolgathering

Woolgathering by Patti Smith
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's review
Apr 16, 12

bookshelves: bio-memoir
Read in April, 2012

I read this little book in one sitting, on my ferry commute to work. I like this because it was written when she was living in Detroit with her husband and children, a retreat from public life and public work, but certainly not from her art (visual, poetic, musical, and otherwise). Yes, it's different from her music/lyric compositions, and it's different from the more straightforward-but still magical-memoir she wrote of her early artistic life with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids. This one has moments that seem almost stream of consciousness channeling, and others where the narrative is almost beside the point, where the language and the imagery are key.

I especially love her reminiscences about her childhood with her siblings. If you've read other Patti Smith books (like Complete), you already know how they are a deep part of her core. Woolgathering reprints the lyrics of one of her songs, Kimberly. Only here, we get the backstory and see the kernel of the song, before it was a song.

I also love the photographs, although I don't see the connection between the pic of Johnny Depp's desk and the accompanying text. It's a mystery I don't mind pondering.

I love Patti Smith. I think of her as a pure, unvarnished American artist, so I'm admittedly biased. This is the kind of book I would pick up and read again and again, in smaller morsels this time, like I would a favorite book of poems.
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