Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Pioneering musician/writer/visual artist/poet/photographer Patti Smith deservedly won the 2010 National Book Award for her engrossing work, Just Kids. Even if you're not a Patti Smith fan (or even if you've never heard of her) this is a very rewarding book in many ways. She constructs such a lovingly detailed picture of New York City in the 1960s and 70s that you wish you could step into a time machine to be part of it. While living there, she seemed to have crossed paths with every literary and artistic luminary of the day and her anecdotes of those encounters alone are worth the read. Beyond the social and cultural milieu that provides the backdrop, the heart of the story is her relationship with best friend and partner-in-crime, photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The two meet when they are "just kids" and their connection is instant, complicated, endearing, and enduring over a lifetime.