just kids

i’ve read a handful of books this summer both nonfiction and fiction, but i can honestly say smith’s just kids was hands down the best book i’ve read this hot season. she wrote this memoir with such grace and clarity and i cannot recommend it enough. her story is remarkable and true.

*note: i didn’t actually read the book, but rather listened to it on cd. i went back and read parts in the book, but smith reads her own writing and i thought it was perfect.

it was so good for me to read, but at the same time so bad. good because it inspired my like nothing else. . . but bad also, because i haven’t been able to get my greatest life ambition (*becoming a true starving artist) out of my head.

“in my low periods, i wondered what was the point of creating art. for whom? are we animating God? are we talking to ourselves? and what was the ultimate goal? to have one’s work caged in art’s great zoos – the modern, the met, the louvre?

i craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself. why commit to art? for self-realization, or for itself? it seemed indulgent to add to the glut unless one offered illumination.

often, i’d sit and try to write or draw, but all fo the manic activity in the streets, coupled with the vietnam war, made my efforts seem meaningless. i could not identify with political movements. in trying to join them i felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy. i wondered if anything i did mattered.

robert had little patience with these introspective bouts of mine. he never seemed to question his artistic drives, and by his example, i understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of color and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion. to achieve within the work a perfect balance of faith and execution. from this state of mind comes a light, life-charged.”

– patti smith, just kids

+ if you read french, this article about patti smith & her book

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