With works of fiction like ‘City on Fire’ and non-fiction like ‘Love Goes to Buildings on Fire’ being set in a ‘golden’ era of American alternative music the late seventies and early eighties, it makes sense that this a good time to re-release Jennifer Clement’s ‘Widow Basquiat’
I’d previously known Clement only through her novel ‘Prayers for the Stolen’ but in a previous life she had been a good friend of Suzanne Mallouk, the long time girlfriend of artist Jean Michel Basquiat.
As such, she was in a unique position to get a true insider account of life with one New York’s great artists. It’s written from the point of view Canadian émigré Mallouk in a spare, impressionistic style that is by turns painful and poetic.
This approach gives the memoir a far truer picture of Basquiat than many a straight up factual biography.
The stories of his legendary extravagance, philandering and heroin abuse depict a man always on the verge of flaming out but someone still intensely alive.
If you an idea of what life might have been like the eighties New York art scene you could have no better primer