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Ways to Be Pretentious

Ian Penman, 5 May 2016

M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 253 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6768 6
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Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
Bloomsbury, 303 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6300 8
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... old enough to remember punk but a neo-hippy these days – recently mentioned she’d been to see Patti Smith, who was touring her 1975 album, Horses, for its 40th anniversary. ‘Patti, yeah! Went to see her at the Roundhouse. Paid £30, which I didn’t think was too bad … Didn’t stay that ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: ‘Inside the Dream Palace’, 6 February 2014

... self-indulgent, and not at all free’. The emblematic Chelsea figure of the 20th century is Harry Smith, who pitched up sometime in the 1960s, moonlighted in the 1970s, owing tens of thousands of dollars in rent, and returned there to die in 1991. Smith had put together the Anthology of American Folk Music, released by ...


Kristin Dombek: Kim Gordon, 19 March 2015

Girl in a Band 
by Kim Gordon.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2015, 978 0 571 31383 9
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... about in art school in LA – the New York of Judson Church and Yvonne Rainer, of Andy Warhol and Patti Smith and Lou Reed. It was disappearing as she arrived, as cities do. She wasn’t sure whether she should be a dancer or artist or filmmaker or writer or musician; what mattered was less what kind of artist than to be one, there. Sid Vicious and Nancy ...

Resistance Days

Derek Mahon, 25 April 2002

... long been marketable – even in the desert of legend and dark myth, of drought and genocide, what Patti Smith calls ‘the real earth of Rimbaud’, no daisies there. Burroughs and Ginsberg – 9, rue Gît-le-Coeur – who thought to undermine the monolith, were building new sandcastles in the air. Back now on the rive gauche and the Pont des Arts ...

Beauty + Terror

Kevin Kopelson: Robert Mapplethorpe, 30 June 2016

Robert Mapplethorpe: The Archive 
by Frances Terpak and Michelle Brunnick.
Getty Research Institute, 240 pp., £32.50, March 2016, 978 1 60606 470 2
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Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs 
by Paul Martineau and Britt Salvesen.
Getty Museum, 340 pp., £40, March 2016, 978 1 60606 469 6
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... read, is that he had a lot in common with Cornell even after he had stopped making assemblages. Patti Smith, who lived with Mapplethorpe when they were both ‘just kids’ – the title of her memoir, published in 2010 – and who was his lover and then friend, says in her essay in The Archive: ‘Robert combined idiosyncratic components and ...


Dave Haslam, 20 July 1995

The Black Album 
by Hanif Kureishi.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1995, 0 571 15086 1
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The Faber Book of Pop 
edited by Hanif Kureishi and Jon Savage.
Faber, 813 pp., £16.99, May 1995, 0 571 16992 9
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... music has also stormed the citadel of literary fiction, and characters in novels such as Karline Smith’s Moss Side Massive and Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity are identified, and minutely differentiated, by their music tastes. The characters in The Black Album tend not to be pinned down by their music tastes. Chili, the central character’s brother, is, in ...

Afloat with Static

Jenny Turner: Hey, Blondie!, 19 December 2019

Face It 
by Debbie Harry.
HarperCollins, 352 pp., £20, October 2019, 978 0 00 822942 9
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... hunger. True satiation. It seems so simple. Probably as simple as infinity and the universe.Unlike Patti Smith, her fellow New York rocker and ancient rival, Harry doesn’t do hallucinatory chats with dead lovers and a motel sign (‘Thank you, Dream Motel, I said … It’s the Dream Inn! the sign exclaimed’), or stud her text with dingy photos of ...

The Style It Takes

Mark Ford: John Cale, 16 September 1999

What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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... haunting first solo album, The Marble Index (1968), with Iggy Pop, with Jonathan Richman, and with Patti Smith on Horses (1976). In 1971 he swapped New York for LA, heroin for cocaine, chic Betsey Johnson for his second wife, mad Cindy. The move, he laments, was the first of many ‘irreversible, lasting decisions’ which blighted the next twenty years ...

Predatory Sex Aliens

Gary Indiana: Burroughs, 8 May 2014

Call Me Burroughs: A Life 
by Barry Miles.
Twelve, 718 pp., £17, January 2014, 978 1 4555 1195 2
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... disservice of implying that a home visit in old age from Kurt Cobain or a graveside serenade from Patti Smith has the same cultural importance as the writing of Nova Express and The Wild Boys. Burroughs’s actual achievement seems incidental to the glitzy mythologising of his remaining intimates, though still a bone of contention gnawed by ...


Jackson Lears: Ralph Nader’s novel, 8 April 2010

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 
by Ralph Nader.
Seven Stories, 733 pp., $27.50, September 2009, 978 1 58322 903 3
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... that ‘not a cent of tax money was involved’ in their extraordinary campaign. In Washington, Patti Smith and Patriotic Polly join in a spirited rendition of ‘The People Have the Power’ before a chanting, swaying throng. ‘It’s truly a Hollywood ending,’ Paul Newman says, ‘except it’s real.’ So what are we to make of this fantasy? The ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... Pound, Virgil and Sextus Propertius.’ He also introduced his girlfriend to Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Carolee Schneemann. ‘Her eyes opened wide.’In later years, Acker often said that she had studied linguistics under Roman Jakobson. This wasn’t true, Kraus thinks: Jakobson taught at Harvard, which didn’t take girls until the mid-1970s. Acker ...

Imagine Tintin

Michael Hofmann: Basil Bunting, 9 January 2014

A Strong Song Tows Us: The Life of Basil Bunting 
by Richard Burton.
Infinite Ideas, 618 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 1 908984 18 0
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... Just as some faces are a gift to the photographer (Artaud, Patti Smith), so certain lives are a gift to the biographer. These are, broadly, of two types: the hard and gemlike, abbreviated, compressed, intense; and the lengthy, implausible, exfoliated, whiskery, picaresque. Vehement or even violent emotion is good, overt drama, prominent contacts or associations, sudden changes of orientation, movement through different societies and settings ...

Thanks for being called Dick

Jenny Turner: ‘I Love Dick’, 17 December 2015

I Love Dick 
by Chris Kraus.
Tuskar Rock, 261 pp., £12.99, November 2015, 978 1 78125 647 3
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... boldness I associate with downtown word-based artists – Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Patti Smith. Parts of all the letters are brave and interesting, but other parts made me feel the way Semiotext(e) used to in its heyday – maybe I’m just not cool enough to get it, but isn’t some of this stuff a bit unpleasant? The Harbury letter in ...

Fleeing the Mother Tongue

Jeremy Harding: Rimbaud, 9 October 2003

Rimbaud Complete 
edited by Wyatt Mason.
Scribner, 656 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 7432 3950 4
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Collected Poems 
by Arthur Rimbaud, edited by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 337 pp., £8.99, June 2001, 0 19 283344 8
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L'Art de Rimbaud 
by Michel Murat.
Corti, 492 pp., €23, October 2002, 2 7143 0796 5
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Arthur Rimbaud 
by Jean-Jacques Lefrère.
Fayard, 1242 pp., €44.50, May 2001, 2 213 60691 9
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Arthur Rimbaud: Presence of an Enigma 
by Jean-Luc Steinmetz, edited by Jon Graham.
Welcome Rain, 464 pp., $20, May 2002, 1 56649 251 3
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by Graham Robb.
Picador, 552 pp., £8.99, September 2001, 0 330 48803 1
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... Enid Starkie, too. But most, including the Beats, Bob Dylan and Dave Van Ronk, Jim Morrison and Patti Smith, took Rimbaud to be a key French import for the prosperity of imaginative dissent in their own culture, and in some cases as a fashion accessory. Easy to sneer at them, but no bad thing to bear in mind that London was the making of some of ...

Asking to Be Looked at

Wayne Koestenbaum, 25 January 1996

Mapplethorpe: A Biography 
by Patricia Morrisroe.
Macmillan, 461 pp., £20, September 1995, 9780333669419
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Playing with the Edge: The Photographic Achievement of Robert Mapplethorpe 
by Arthur Danto.
California, 206 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 520 20051 9
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... His Nipple Pierced, later shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; and in a Daley movie about Patti Smith’s menstrual period, our hero is shown changing her sanitary napkin. The relationship with the ‘surrealistically rude’ Smith proved catalytic. (Robert, too, would later be characterised as ‘lyrically ...

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