Jessica's Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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Aug 11, 11

really liked it
Read from July 30 to August 09, 2011

just got the kindle preview. could be annoying or great.

* * * * * *

Finished this last night. Of Mapplethorpe and Smith's relationship, I'll only say that I found it sweet and sad. Other things interested me about this book more.

I have to agree with Yahaira, it was both annoying and great. The starving artist / wannabe might be a phase lots of kids and young people went through before they turned into responsible adults, but it is one I skipped entirely, so yeah, while I found some of the writing and the subjects irritating, I thought this was a fascinating portal into the successful incubation of a couple of artists who may or may not have been remarkably talented, but were undeniably successful. Like No Direction Home, the documentary about Bob Dylan, Just Kids left me thinking that maybe the most important factor in this kind of artistic / commercial success is being in the right place at the right time. It's not that I think Dylan or Smith or Mapplethorpe were not talented, but I'm just not convinced that in their natural state, outside of that environment, any of them possessed much more genius than anyone else--or at least not as much genius as is attributed to each of them today. Other contributing factors: the related factor of meeting the right people, and time, lots of time for ideas to incubate, which means not really having a job or the overwhelming (and middle-class) sense of obligation and responsibility that drives some of us to feel that we have to eat or have a roof over our heads.

It did surprise me how materialistic (and I don't mean that in the yuppie sense) Smith was - a total magpie. It was also interesting how much she recalled and wrote about what she or Mapplethorpe wore. Both she and Mapplethorpe reminded me a lot of those characters in Sartre's writings who were meant to be foils for existentialism: people obsessed with creating "situations," seeing life as one big performance. Now, existentialism is one phase I *did* go through. Maybe it's the wannabe phase for hyper-rational, hyper-analytical kids like me. In a way, it pushed me to become a teacher after college, to want to *do* something in the world. As much as I've always wished I had the talent to be an artist, it's possible that I never could have been one anyway, for having the wrong philosophy.
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Yahaira it's actually both


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