So close. Again. For the second year in a row I’ve missed my Goodreads reading challenge, but at least 2013 saw me come within spitting distance of it, gaining ground in the last months of the year only to find it wasn’t enough.
The inevitable over-long-book-that-left-me-cold surprised me by last year coming in the shape of Jack Kerouac’s The Sea is My Brother. Yet to learn my lesson when it comes to juvenilia, The Sea is My Brother struck me as being of interest mainly to Kerouac scholars, with much of it devoted not to the previously unpublished novel but to a lengthy selection of correspondence. I’ve read quite a bit of Kerouac and love books like On The Road, Dharma Bums, Lonesome Traveller, but – off and on – this took four months to read.
Another was the last book I finished in 2013, Patti Smith’s Just Kids. With a supporting cast that boasts Allen Ginsberg, the denizens of Max’s Kansas City and Television among others it was a fascinating, poetic and inspiring tale of late ’60s/early ’70s New York.
From its many memorable passages this one is particularly apt, coming as Patti and Lenny Kaye stand on the Max’s stage in the early hours of 1 January 1975:
It was the first hour of the New Year and as I looked out into the crowd, I remembered again what my mother always said. I turned to Lenny. ‘So as today, the rest of the year.’
I took the microphone. He struck the chord.
For no particular reason I’d stopped listening to her music as regularly as I did when Horses lived inside my cassette walkman. This year that will change.