Bettye Kronstad

Perfect Day: An Intimate Portrait of Life with Lou Reed

Published by Jawbone Press

Nov 21, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Bettye Kronstad was with Lou Reed from the end of his time in The Velvet Underground through his 1973 album Berlin, as girlfriend, wife, and co-conspirator. Her memoir of this time begins inauspiciously with Kronstad first becoming acquainted with Reed in a hospital where they were both visiting a mutual friend. Reed called to her, "Hey you! Beautiful!," and then smacked her on the butt without so much as an introduction. Strangely, this began Kronstad's partnership with Reed that was to last for five years.

Perfect Day is a dispiriting portrait of Reed. He is drunk or drugged most of the time. He is verbally abusive. He becomes physically aggressive. It is the portrait of an addict, and not a particularly nice one at that. Reed comes across as despicable, from his first meeting, as detailed above, to the moment Kronstad walked out on him for the second, and last, time.

Throughout her book, Kronstad lauds Reed for his artistic genius, his lyric writing, and their work as a team to make him a star. It's not hard to imagine Kronstad's unwavering support guiding Reed's instability through the difficult transition from The Velvet Underground to his solo success. But what remains a mystery is why Kronstad stayed. Things never seem particularly blissful for her, except perhaps for the times when Reed is not under the influence, which by her account are seldom. Kronstad describes how Reed created Berlin and how she feels he did so in part by co-opting her own personal history, a betrayal that she could not get past.

Kronstad leaves Reed, comes back to him, and finally leaves him for good, making a clean break and never speaking to him again. Perfect Day is her account of her days with Reed. However, from any objective standpoint given her retelling, they clearly seem much less than perfect. (

Author rating: 7/10

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