Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Trail of Patti Smith Somehow Leads to Allen Ginsberg, Who Probably Wasn't Featured in Just Kids

The store is all abuzz about how much buzz Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids is getting. The editor, Matt Weiland (editor's note, no, it's edited by Dan Halpern--I was tricked by a thank you in the book!) seems to really have a good eye for what will sell in pop culture. He reminds me a bit of a former Harper editor, Craig Nelson, who released books from folks like Laurie Anderson. He's now an author, by the way, whose most recent book is Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon. I think Craig may have toured Schwartz. And so did Matt, as one of the co-editors of State by State. I did not go to either event, and am doing penance by attending 99.9% of the ones I have at Boswell. In the latter case, I was definitely out of town.

That said, I apologize.

Our Patti Smith moment came today when our customer (and ex-Schwartzian) Jenny was selling back some books for credit. I bought a copy of Allen Ginsberg's Kaddish from her, and inside was a ticket to see Ginsberg in Madison Jenny didn't want it, and thought I should leave it with the book. I had a better idea.

It wasn't five minutes later when John Eklund walked in and asked for a copy of Just Kids. He said that Sunday's front-page New York Times Book Review was one of the best reviews of a book he'd read in some time. "I like a review that doesn't just discuss the book; it sells it," he said. Ah, bookseller style.

I told John I've been singing this Patti Smith song all day to myself, in that way where you think you're singing it but you only know something like three words.

"Because the Night?" he asked, knowing that I am likely to jump on a poppier selection for my inner song loop.
"No," I should have replied, but didn't, "the slightly obscurer but perhaps even poppier 'Frederick.'" My heart is always with the song the underdog song that should have been the hit but wasn't a Bruce Springsteen collaboration (which "Because the Night" was, wasn't it?) What I said was, "This ticket goes with the book."
"But why are you giving me a ticket to Allen Ginsberg?" he asked.

"No," I replied, "it's Ginsberg and Patti Smith together."*

And so John got the ticket. Makes an excellent bookmark.

*My other Patti Smith moment is once removed. I went to see Lenny Kaye and the Nuggets at CBGB's (my only time there) with some friends.

**And this post reveals why I don't do much dialogue in blogs, nor do I like too much in the novels I read.
Yes, it's true. I'm at Winter Institute at San Jose, having saved up some posts from beforehand. Who has time here? Plus, I would like to write about show, but I think I need a little more time digesting my day of e-madness to regurgitate something interesting.

1 comment:

Vineland said...

Nice story. Yes, Allen Ginsberg is mentioned in Just Kids. Shame the book has no index, otherwise I'd tell you which page!