Fangtastic Friday Appreciates Memoir, Patti Smith, and Lady Gaga

I don’t write memoir, but I sometimes read it and almost always appreciate it.  I read Glass Castles last year for book club, and though I admired the prose, I found myself wanting to slap Jeannette Wall’s parents up side the head for being such idiots.  I could only take so much idiocy and 2/3 through the book, I had to put it down.  No, not just put it down, lock it away so I wasn’t reminded how angry those people made me.   Now, memoir’s not my favorite genre, but I do like to mix up my reading, and my two book clubs expose me to books I’d never have read on my own.  It’s just way too easy to pick up another Lisa Kleypas, know what I mean?

That said, I recently finished Just Kids by Patti Smith, and I LOVED it.  Not just for the lovely prose, but because I could so identify with Patti’s relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the prolific photographer and icon.  My first husband was gay, and I went through being his attempt to live a straight lifestyle.  Like Robert Mapplethorpe, he was probably as confused about his sexuality as Robert was, which leads me to how much the times have changed.  I know so many gays and lesbians who grew up trying to be straight, and in the process, caused a lot of heartache for themselves and their straight partners.  Shouldn’t have happened and doesn’t happen much these days, thank goodness.   Coming out isn’t the stigma it once was.

After reading Patti’s book, I thought about how I should write a memoir.  But honestly, I don’t want to relive the pain of my past.  I’m much happier penning urban fantasy and alternative history, where I can get lost in a world I create rather than recreating one in which I suffered.  I have my own catharsis.  I volunteer for Youth OUTright, an LGBTQ support group for youth.  I don’t want to see another kid try to be someone other than the person he or she was born to be.  And aren’t we all beautiful, just the way we are?

I saw Lady Gaga in concert last week in Orlando.  She was amazing, and her song, “Born This Way,” is an anthem to being and celebrating our authentic selves.  She talked to the audience about being bullied when she was 11 years old.   I hope she writes a memoir someday.

6 Responses to “Fangtastic Friday Appreciates Memoir, Patti Smith, and Lady Gaga”
  1. Alli M. says:

    Nice blog, Susan! I loved Patti Smith’s memoir, too. Currently working my way through “The Danish Girl” by David Ebershoff which is NOT a memoir but is based on the true story of the artist couple Einar and Gerda Wegener. Einar (with Gerda’s support) eventually became Lili Elbe, the first known person to have male-to-female sexual reassignment surgery. This was in the 1930s — talk about a challenging coming out! But a stunning and highly recommended book.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Alli. I’ll have to look that one up. I tend to agree with your book selections.
      Glad you enjoyed Just Kids. I got so pumped about Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography after reading the book that I was thrilled to learn of a new exhibit of his work at the Sean Kelly Gallery in NYC next month. As luck would have it, I’ll be there for my son’s graduation from Columbia, so I’m pumped about seeing the exhibit.

  2. Jean Watkins says:

    Only you could tie those three things together, Susan! Great post and I admire your work with the kids.

  3. Good post, Susan. And don’t we all wish it could be a kinder, gentler world ?

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