Katie's Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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's review
May 03, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: new-york, memoir, i-expected-so-much-more-from-you, art
Read from May 03 to 10, 2011

I had all the hopes in the world for this book, given my fascination with 1960s/70s Bohemian counterculture in New York [see: Across the Universe, AKA one of the best movies of all time]. Look at what Patti Smith had to work with when writing Just Kids: Revolution in music! Rock-and-roll poetry! Self-expression! Boundary-breaking art across multiple media! Innovation and free thinking! Rampant drug use!

Instead of capitalizing on all of that, however, Patti Smith chooses to dig up her dusty old day planner and translate it into an "and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened..." kind of memoir that neglects to add any observation or insight on why this happened. What was it about this microcosm of rock-and-roll Chelsea that inspired musical genius and artistic triumph, you may wonder, but Patti, she's not gonna tell ya.

More disturbing was her constant referral to her "work" without ever explaining her motivation or defining her impetus for creating said work, and regrettably, she came across as a cliched poseur trying to play the role of artiste. Several times, she recalls when Mapplethorpe told her that "they [as artists] see the world differently." That's a good start, but she never elaborates to tell us what she sees. There's no mention of what inspired or ignited her, no discussion of what her aim was in creating, no reference to her artistic mission. Patti...you gotta give me more than this.

On the flip side, I love the name of the book. It's absolutely perfect.

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