by Patti Smith
Blue stars and lambs and the moon and Genet and poetry and huaraches and magic.
These are just a few of the words used time and time again in this memoir to make sure the reader understands that this is a book about an artist talking about the life of an artist and the sacrifices one must make for art and the art of Art.
It is not a wonderful book, nor is it a terrible book; it exists somewhere in the space carved out by a constant motion between these two extremes. Take, for example, these two sentences from a three paragraph description of the famed Chelsea Hotel, the first, a wonderfully evocative and succinct sentence, begins the passage, while the second, a tragic mess of half-images, concludes it- 1. The Chelsea was like a doll's house in the Twilight Zone, with a hundred rooms, each a small universe. 2. I sniffed out their spirits as I silently scurried from floor to floor, longing for discourse with a gone procession of smoking caterpillars.
As an artist working and living in New York City for 15 years now, I was inspired by her descriptions of how influential people moved in and out of her life. And throughout the book there are interesting tidbits of information mixed in with an endearing portrait of young love and the wistful, romantic remembrances of a time gone by. Reading this book was like reading a love letter- to Robert Maplethorpe, to New York, and the artistic process. And, in the end, who doesn't like a good love letter?