• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Dream of Life

Robert Mapplethorpe 1946-1989

“Many would not make it. Candy Darling died of cancer, Tinkerbelle and Andrea Whips took their lives. Others sacrificed themselves to drugs and misadventure. Taken down, the stardom they so desired just out of reach, tarnished stars falling from the sky.  I feel no sense of vindication as one of the handfuls of survivors. I would rather have seen them all succeed, catch the brass ring. As it turned out, it was I who got one of the best horses.”  Patti Smith, Just Kids, winner of the 2010 National Book Award

29 Responses

  1. How absolutely fucking right.

  2. Beautiful! What a triumph and I agree with Ms. Smith about not abandoning the book…


  3. “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.”

    Amen, Patti.

  4. SCORE!

  5. Congratulations to you both! That’s wonderful.

  6. Best news I’ve heard in ages. Congratulations — richly deserved.

  7. Candy came from out on the island.
    In the back room, she was everybody’s darling.

    I got something to hide here called desire
    And I will get out of here–
    You know the fiery potion is just about to come
    In my nose is the taste of sugar
    And I got nothin’ to hide here save desire
    And I’m gonna go, I’m gonna get out of here
    I’m gonna get out of here, I’m gonna get on that train,
    I’m gonna go on that train and go to New York City
    I’m gonna be somebody, I’m gonna get on that train, go to New York City,
    I’m gonna be so bad I’m gonna be a big star and I will never return,
    Never return, no, never return, to burn out in this piss factory
    And I will travel light.
    Oh, watch me now.

  8. In your passionate post yesterday you wrote of how proud you were–you must be beaming today! Congratulations to the
    and to you, too.


  10. That she won is proof there are still some who care about art…this gives me hope.

    I will dance barefoot today.

  11. congrats! baby needs a new pair of shoes to celebrate.

  12. Congratulations to both of you! It’s so awesome a book won that speaks to such a hugely important and only beginning-to-be recognized time in our history. And Patti somehow made the story universal. The very best part is the writing was so truly beautiful.

  13. This is cool for so many reasons.

  14. Many many congratulations, Bets, so happy for you both, well deserved and the right choice. Such a clear, kind book.

    • Clear and kind: that’s the perfect three-word description of Just Kids.

      If I’d had a book in the running, I could take some comfort knowing that I lost to Patti Smith. And I also would have known all along that there was no chance of anyone else winning it anyway.


  15. Great news – congratulations!

  16. Congratulations! Congratulations! Congratulations!

  17. Congratulations to you both! Such a marvelous book!

  18. Beautiful. I want to write like that.

    I hope you are still glowing.

  19. How absolutely thrilling. You must be over the moon! When I told my husband Just Kids was on my Christmas list, he looked at me in total surprise. I think he thought I didn’t know who Patti Smith was. After 40 years I can still occasionally surprise him. Congrats!

  20. Congratulations!

  21. Congratulations & Yay, Betsy Lerner y Patti Smith.
    ————– I need to ask some advice / points of view, for my work —
    I’m writing a novel — have 1150 pages (would probably boil down to 250 – 300, typed double spaced).
    Along with the novel, I do five kinds of “practice / exercises” to try to improve: Writing Practice; reading about writing & creativity and making notes; reading & notes on “style” — which is a very general thing, which I need-and-like to do; post on my blog; and make a daily entry in a Project Journal. ( I also keep a diary.)

    At home I have A LOT of notebooks, full. When I go back & read in some of them (which is infrequent — busy — trying to go forward), I am entertained, and engaged.

    I always thought The Novel was the format for me (except for a go-round with Screenplays — ergh! — ), because — when I was a child and figured out that I wanted to “write stories”, fiction was what I read.
    NOW — however — I feel this Challenge / Question in my work–
    posting on my blog is the FUN of the day;
    writing pages of my Novel is more of a — “make myself do it.”
    (The puritan-work-ethic inside my head says, “The Thing that’s more difficult is the Thing which is Better. [my novel] The siren song of the Easier Thing [blog] is Bad. Do not be seduced.”)
    BUT — am feeling ambivalent about fiction. (For Myself, only, not others, & I’m not putting down fiction, only wondering about format best for me)
    To my surprise I realized, this morning — bam — that EVERYTHING I feel like Reading, right now, is NON-fiction. And that’s different from how I used to feel. Here’s what I truly want to Read, NOW: “The Bob Dylan Companion–Four Decades of Commentary; Waiting For The Weekend (history of leisure time); Fear & Loathing — campaign Trail ’72, Hunter Thompson; Grace & Power (Kennedy admin. history); Ted Sorensen’s books; Keith Richards’ autobio.; “Bob Dylan In America”; “Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait In Letters of an American Visionary; and finish “Audacity Of Hope” —
    I find the only Fiction I really want to dip into, on weekends, is Winnie-The-Pooh and Jane Austen. —
    when thought of this (above) this morning, realized — Maybe I am an Essayist, not a fiction writer.
    What’s inspiring me now, is Writing / Talking About What I Want to (blog) and what’s bogging me down is trying to come up with Plot (novel).
    Can anyone — diagnose / advise?
    My e-mail address is :

    • I’ll keep this short, because I don’t have a lot to say and don’t want to take up space at this particular post of Betsy’s anyway.

      First, I don’t see why your current reading interests have anything to do with your writing interests. Don’t let the former distract you or confuse you.

      Second, to pursue fiction, you don’t necessarily need to come up with a plot at the outset. But you have to have something to get you started: a theme to explore, a situation to develop, a character or two, the hint of a story you heard once, even just an incident to dramatize. If I’m misreading you and you’ve got pretty much everything BUT a plot, I can’t help you in a short space; though there are guidelines, there are no absolute rules (even the usual demand for conflict can be a canard–I’ve read rewarding stories with little real conflict).

  22. Please tell me that previous post is a joke.

  23. And the moment arises!
    So much waiting!
    How rare and right.
    Ask Patti to do an audible version. I would love to hear Just Kids.

  24. got chills when I saw this…so well deserved…and to think I spoke to her in Washington Square Park! Congrats, Betsy

  25. Congrats Bets and Patti. Well done.

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