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DNF: Patti Smith – Just Kids

March 20, 2014

DNF. Just Kids by Patti Smith (2010)

Length: 288 pages (I got through about 50 of them.)
Genre: Memoir

Started: 24 February 2014
Finished: Nope!

Where did it come from? Downloaded from Amazon.
Why do I have it? It was my book club selection for the month.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 26 January 2014.

I didn’t get far
enough into Just Kids to
see if they grow up.

Summary: Patti Smith left home as a young woman in 1967, moved to New York, met Robert Mapplethorpe, and fell in love. They were young and poor together, but then started making art… or something? I didn’t get past them being young and poor and in love before I gave it up.

Review: One more tally in the “memoirs about being poor are not my cup of tea” category. This was the wrong book for the wrong person. It was my book club’s pick for the month; I never would have picked it up on my own. I have no connection to either Smith or Mapplethorpe or their music/art, no connection to the period, no real reason to pick the book up. But I gamely gave it a shot. But I was soon rolling my eyes at her descriptions of the lucid, transcendental mind-expanding visions she was having as a feverish two-year-old (I’m so sure).

My small torrent of words dissipated into an elaborate sense of expanding and receding. It was my entrance into the radiance of imagination. This process was especially magnified within the fevers of influenza, measles, chicken pox, and mumps. I had them all and with each I was privileged with a new level of awareness. Lying deep within myself, the symmetry of a snowflake spinning above me, intensifying through my lids, I seized a most worthy souvenir, a shard of heaven’s kaleidoscope. –Location 78

Even though the childhood stuff didn’t last long, even when she’s old enough to leave home it was close enough to my least favorite “look at my terrible childhood” sub-genre of memoir that I was not having a good time. Then I realized two things. First, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to attend my book club meeting where we were discussing this book anyways. Second, I realized that I was having to force myself through the book, and after days of this, I was still only at 15% complete. Sorry, Just Kids: life’s too short.

Recommendation: It’s won a bunch of awards, and even within my book club, an informal poll suggests everybody but me really liked it. So although the subject wasn’t interesting to me (and I wasn’t crazy about the writing style, either), fans of Smith’s or people interested in the time period will probably have better luck with it.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Beth Fish Reads, The Book Frog, A Home Between the Pages, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: I was asleep when he died.

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • Location 367: “I wandered through Kino parlors and peered through the windows of the magnificent sprawling Grant’s Raw Bar filled with men in black coats scooping up piles of fresh oysters.” – A game of chance, similar to lotto, that uses balls rather than counters. (Spelled “keno” in the dictionary.)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2014 9:12 am

    I love memoirs so I may give this a try some day. Sorry it didn’t work for you.

    • April 11, 2014 12:26 pm

      Kathy – I think it would have been better if I had had any kind of prior knowledge of (or interest in) Smith and/or Mapplethorpe’s work.

  2. March 22, 2014 12:45 pm

    For whatever reason this has never really called to me. That’s too bad you didn’t like it!

    • April 11, 2014 12:27 pm

      Kailana – Perils of a book club, I guess: some books I never would have picked up on my own but they turn out to be awesome; some books I never would have picked up on my own for good reason.

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