I've been reading a cluster of memoirs from the 1960s-1970s on the punk/left wing/hippie era of New York City, from the lower east side over to the Village. All three I downloaded on my Nook, which seems all too easy too do, like another glass of wine when it's going down smooth. I doubt any of them will be on Rick Santorum's list, or that of any other GOP candidate for that matter, although Ron Paul might enjoy the liberatarian spirit of the times.
The first finished, Patti Smith's "Just Kids," about her love affair/friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. As the 60s were burning out, and the '70s came like the horrible morning after, Patti came out with her "Horses," which I quite liked if I recall. The cover photo was by Mapplethorpe, which I'd forgotten, or perhaps never knew, until I read the book. Despite her wild, cutting edge personna, Smih comes across in her book as a shy, nice, small-town girl, an innocent in the big city always finding a new man to cake care of her. The first part of the book talks about her meeting Mapplethorpe and her close early relationship with him, and it begins with narrative energy from the time-honored motif of two kids from the sticks in Manhattan. Then, as they hang on and establish a daily life of trying to become artists, the book's drive dissipates, with too much mundane detail about squalid apartments, bad jobs, folks met and drinks downed. At end end, the book regains its opening power, fnishing with a poingnant account of Mapplethorpe's death.
The lastest I'm reading is James Walcott's account of the same time, wrriten from his jounalist's perspective. Walcott is a more fluid writer than Smith, better able to give dramatic force to the details and anecdotes he recalls, although he often overreaches with his verbal effects. His hip asides are amusing when on-target, but are annoying when he goes amiss. He too hits a dead zone in the middle of the book,which I hope he spins out of soon.
The most disappointing one is Ed Sanders' memoirs about the Fugs and his Peace Eye Bookstore, As with Smioth, he piles on surfeit of details that read more like a private diary without putting them in a broader context for the reader. The book is still entertaining, but too many chapters pile up with unrefined facts about places played, folks met, songs written.