I coffee once a week with a good friend that is forty years my elder. Despite our age difference, we have many things in common, and are never at a loss for things to discuss.
Our visits are enlightening, fun, and heartfelt. A common topic for us is literature, and on one visit I was handed the New York Times bestseller
Just Kids by Patti Smith.
She passed it over her tiny coffee table which was covered with a white antique cloth, then left me to ponder the read as she went to the kitchen to get rolls out of the oven.
The scent of fresh flowers, baked bread, coffee and honey filled the tiny three room cabin that stands alone in the middle of the woods in Saksomdal.
I sat there looking at the vintage table setting, reluctant to admit I wasn´t sure who Patti Smith was. Upon closer inspection of the back cover, I see this is an autobiography, and that the writer is a famous person.
Evidently I lived under a snow-clump before moving to Norway.
I asked my friend why this book would be of interest to me, and was told, ` It reminded me of you.´
Well that got my interest, and the first thing I did when home was Google Patti Smith.
I felt silly not recognizing the name as I watched her sing the VERY FAMILIAR hit Because the Night belongs to Lovers on YouTube.
But how do I have ANYTHING in common with Patti Smith?
Singer? Uhm no.
Thinking my friend may be a bit delusional, and wondering if perhaps I misunderstood her comment,
I made myself a chi latte, snuggled into my favorite reading chair, and began the journey that would satisfy my curiosities.
Patti Smith, a punk goddess, performer and rock and roll star, has spent her life writing poems, songs, and books. She is a visual artist whose work has been shown in prestigious galleries and she has performed her songs with renown artists all over the world.
I found Just Kids to be a lovely story.
It begins with her moving to New York, meeting, then falling in love with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, and follows their creative journey, as they grow up together and apart.
It is a nostalgic walk across the bridge to adulthood, becoming real artists, then looking back to see `Just Kids´ standing behind on the other side.
Dare I admit I had to Google Robert Mapplethorpe…
I particularly enjoyed this YouTube video of his work.
I did see a bit of myself in the story as I identified with moving to a big city at nineteen chasing a dream. In love with life and future possibilities, no money, roaming free as a gypsy, oblivious to the dangers that were around. I hung out in hotel lounges, brushed elbows with famous people, witnessed AIDS and drugs deteriorate the bodies of friends, and held the hand of a dying friend via telephone until he was gone. I too write to release, as I meander across a bridge with confidence, looking at life as a canvas, never apologizing for who I am.
Somehow I´m not sure these were the similarities my wise coffee-friend was thinking!?!
But I´ll try to remember to ask during our next visit.
I recommend Just kids, especially as a Book Club read!
It makes for a great party!
Encourage everyone to dress up like hippies and or punk rockers,
serve vegan dishes, as well as lots of snacks sure to cure the munchies (vegan or not).
Blast classic rock and roll music from the 1970s, walk barefoot and be free as the flowers!
If you have read this book, did you find yourself relating and reliving bits of your own past?
Or is this more proof that the Goodness of the Grit is,
it´s all about me, Me, ME!
Suggested Book Club Questions that provoke conversation (without making someone that may not have read the book uncomfortable):
1-Was everyone somewhat familiar with Patti and Robert before reading this book?
2-Have you heard her songs/ seen his artwork/photography?
3-Did Patti sacrifice her happiness for Robert?
4-Both Patti and Robert became extremely successful in their lives. Was luck involved?
5-Were you as driven and confident at this age?
6-Would having money (perhaps getting it from their parents, etc.) have ultimately robbed them of the experiences that shaped who they became?
7-Does being handed things dissuade creativity and drive?
8-Is New York responsible for their success in a way? Imagine if they had met and lived in your town, for example?