Best nonfiction books of 2010
There's no happy ending to Patti Smith's "Just Kids," either, even though it won the National Book Award — an impressive achievement for someone already celebrated as the "Godmother of Punk." Still, the book has a fairy-tale aura to it. At 21, Smith, newly arrived in New York, befriended and then bedded a passionate, penniless, brazenly ambitious young man named Robert Mapplethorpe. The story of their relationship is also the story of an era: the downtown scene in the '70s, when Smith could get picked up by Allen Ginsberg in the morning (he mistook her for a boy) and dine with Jimi Hendrix at night. And, as the title suggests, it is also the story of youth, as viewed from a melancholy distance.