Wednesday, October 2, 2013

September Readings

Just Kids | Patti Smith

Some 23,000 feet over New South Wales, I cried as I finished "Just Kids". Years ago I came across a book of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in a dusty old bookshop across from Flinders Street station (this shop, I'm sorry to say, no longer exists). I didn't know that I was looking at Robert Mapplethorpe's work.

I had no idea who he was. All I knew is that the work was too confronting. Even for me. I just couldn't see the point. I ended up buying another photography book with a Bill Henson print in it. I don't know why I remembered that, but the moment Patti started to describe Robert's work, I made the connection. Now, years later,
I feel that I need to find that book again.

"I was asleep when he died."

It's strange when a story set in a time and a place so completely alien to you manages to touch you this much. "Just Kids" is a love story and a eulogy. Perhaps the book is so powerful because Patti's love for Robert shines through every page.

Tiny Beautiful Things | Cheryl Strayed

"Tiny Beautiful Things" appeared on several "best of" lists on Brain Pickings (which is where I found out about the book in the first place), and with good reason. Cheryl Strayed, or Dear Sugar, as she is known on her column on The Rumpus has the kind of no-bullshit, kick-in-the-ass approach to advice on life, love and all things in between that we all so desperately need every now and then. I would highly recommend this book to absolutely everyone.

"Write like a motherfucker."

"Your assumptions about the lives of others are in direct relation to your naïve pomposity. Many people you believe to be rich are not rich. Many people you think have it easy worked hard for what they got. Many people who seem to be gliding right along have suffered and are suffering. Many people who appear to you to be old and stupidly saddled down with kids and cars and houses were once every bit as hip and pompous as you.

When you meet a man in the doorway of a Mexican restaurant who later kisses you while explaining that this kiss doesn’t ‘mean anything’ because, much as he likes you, he is not interested in having a relationship with you or anyone right now, just laugh and kiss him back. Your daughter will have his sense of humor. Your son will have his eyes.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

One Christmas at the very beginning of your twenties when your mother gives you a warm coat that she saved for months to buy, don’t look at her skeptically after she tells you she thought the coat was perfect for you. Don’t hold it up and say it’s longer than you like your coats to be and too puffy and possibly even too warm. Your mother will be dead by spring. That coat will be the last gift she gave you. You will regret the small thing you didn’t say for the rest of your life.

Say thank you."

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