I have this morning started reading Just Kids by Patti Smith. I’m not sure I like it. It seems to be written in the soft focus fog of nostalgia, even if that nostalgia is for a hard time – but of course, the effect of the fug is to negate the hardship and make it all a necessary part of a preordained journey towards a successful destiny. I suppose I also don’t believe it. I am cynical enough to suspect personal recollections like this and – to contradict myself somewhat – I do rather like imagining what ‘real’ occurrence might have stimulated the formation and retelling of an explanatory anecdote, if I find the anecdote too neat or too unlikely or too vague.
For example, she recounts making her way to New York: the promised land that would enable her to realise her identity as a creative artist. She gets to the bus station and finds that fares have gone up. She cannot afford the fare. She steps into a phone booth (a “real Clark Kent moment”) and finds an abandoned purse with a locket and $32. She takes the money, leaves the purse and locket and thanks the unaware donor whose money funded her trip and, obviously, paid off in Patti attaining her destiny as well as her destination.
It seems too good to be true. So I have decided that this is a cover story, perhaps grounded in some truth but disguising a darker reality. Read the rest of this entry »