A good example of the sort of passage in the opening pages that just makes me shake my head and throw up my hands in temperamental disaffinity:
Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed.Ugh! It is intolerable!
It leads to each other. We become ourselves.
For a time Robert protected me, then was dependent on me, and then possessive of me. His transformation was the rose of Genet, and he was pierced deeply by his blooming. I too desired to feel more of the world. Yet sometimes that desire was nothing more than a wish to go backward where our mute light spread from hanging lanterns with mirrored panels. We had ventured out like Maeterlinck's children seeking the bluebird and were caught in the twisted briars of our new experiences.
Robert responded as my beloved twin. His dark curls merged with the tangle of my hair as I shuddered tears. He promised we could go back to the way things were, how we used to be, promising me anything if I would only stop crying.
I stopped feeling so antagonistic around midpoint, though. There are glimpses even in the first third or so of a more appealing insight and self-awareness (the description of her own response to seeing Jim Morrison perform is spectacular - "I felt both kinship and contempt for him. I could feel his self-consciousness as well as his supreme confidence" - and I also love the notion of Robert Mapplethorpe having to purchase the porn magazines he used for his collages while they were still sealed and returning to their room at the Chelsea hotel to "unseal the cellophane with the expectation of Charlie peeling back the foil of a chocolate bar in hopes of finding a golden ticket"). A bit more of a sense of humor develops as Smith narrates the trials and tribulations of her early attempts to perform before a crowd (it is not one of the more humorous books I have ever read, however, and it compares very poorly in this and other respects to Keith Richards' autobiography - the main mention of Keith Richards here, I note in passing, is in the admittedly compelling yet depressing and perhaps inadvertently hilarious scene in which Smith attains social prominence in the Max's Kansas City circle by giving herself Keith Richards' haircut!).
Patti Smith is an artist of the body, that is what it comes down to - she expresses her frustration with writing ("it wasn't physical enough"), it is force of will and personal charisma that lead to her success as a musical performer (and I still think that the cover of Horses is a greater collaborative creation than anything on the album - in the 1920s she would have been an Isadora Duncan, she is that sort of innovator). She says elsewhere of Mapplethorpe "Robert was concerned with how to make the photograph, and I with how to be the photograph" - this seems to me a fair description. But the love for Mapplethorpe and the way the book works as an elegy, these are very unusual and striking, I will grudgingly admit that I was won over by the end...