This is a tale of two Patti(e)s.
The Patti(e)s I’m referring to are Pattie Boyd and Patti Smith, authors of Wonderful Tonight and Just Kids. Recently I listened to both books on cd and discovered that one of these things is not like the other.
Both have musical ties, both of the audiobooks are read by the author, and both authors are named Patti(e). That is where the similarities end however. Wonderful Tonight has been on my list for years because who doesn’t want to read about the woman who inspired songs by both George Harrison and Eric Clapton? I thought she must be pretty great, a woman of mystery and substance (and if you would like to keep thinking that, you may want to stop reading now).
Wonderful Tonight (co-written by Penny Junor) is a retelling of events and it reads as a boring list of dear diary entries. Very British Empire as in: I grew up in Kenya, my mommy and daddy didn’t get along, after my parents divorced we were very impoverished (read—no maid), 1960s England was very revolutionary and I began modeling, then I met and married George Harrison of the Beatles, then his friend Eric Clapton fell in love with me and I left George for Eric. Both marriages ended, we did a lot of drugs, I didn’t have children, the end.
Yawn and stretch.
Just Kids in comparison, is like reading poetry (or listening to it rather). Patti is able to paint a vivid, yet gritty picture of New York City in the 60s and 70s. She too, runs into many famous characters of the day (artists, musicians, poets), but hers is a story of the underdog. She created herself and she is able to retell what she endured, how she grew as a person, and how her friendships formed her in such a way that doesn’t romanticize and is quite beautiful.
I choose punk poet laureate over muse everytime.