Patti Smith once said she hadn’t emigrated to New York to become an artist, but an artist’s mistress. Perhaps such modest ambition was the flip side of bravado. Patti has also said that as a teenager she was “the best bus-stop show in South Jersey.” Her school chums used to hike to her stop to catch her repertoire of Tex Ritter imitations and the dirty jokes she had stayed up late to pirate from her father when he got home from the factory. Now, at 27, she has published three books of poetry and a privately pressed 45 rpm which records her transition from conventional poetry readings to a rock-accompanied brand of incantation. Patti Smith is also one of the hottest club acts in Manhattan. She is currently entertaining bids from the more daring major labels for an album-length release of her rock poems. Patti first ventured to Paris at 19, and has instituted a lavish annual birthday celebration for Rimbaud—her spiritual godfather. She worked the Parisian tourist strips as assistant to a fire-eater while pursuing what she supposed was her most promising talent—graphic arts. In time, her drawings began to disintegrate into a species of hieroglyphs, which in turn yielded to clots of words on paper. Returning to New York, she found her head ringing with the cacophony of urban verbal rhythms and, as a kind of exorcism, began to commit them to paper. Musical back-up was the inevitable next step, and only Patti can guess what’s to follow. “If Arthur Rimbaud had a band,” she muses, “I’d learn to play rhythm guitar.”
James Grady in his blistering first novel, Six Days of the Condor, imagines a secret CIA branch deployed to screen spy stories for similarities too close to actual agency practices to be comfortably ignored. Condor is a stunner and, to yield to the implication of its final paragraph, will be followed by a sequel as soon as Grady, 25, polishes a devilish enough plot. He has every incentive to do so. Condor was snapped up by Paramount for $100,000. Robert Redford will star. When the call came from his publishers announcing the movie sale, Grady was sitting in a slum apartment in his native Montana worrying the pros and cons of sinking 890 into a new shower nozzle. “I just hung up and went back and did my dishes,” says Grady, who “never expected to make more than $10,000 a year.” The way things were going, he’d have been lucky to make that. After working his way through the University of Montana and abandoning plans for law school, he found work as a grave digger, a store clerk and a movie projectionist. The inspiration for the book came while Grady was still an undergraduate on a Sears Congressional Journalism Internship in Washington. A bachelor, he has lately returned to the Capitol, where he works as an aide to Montana’s Sen. Lee Metcalf.