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Just Kids

Just Kids

Written by Patti Smith

Narrated by Patti Smith


Just Kids

Written by Patti Smith

Narrated by Patti Smith

ratings:
4.5/5 (214 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jul 26, 2011
ISBN:
9780062111678
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Editor's Note

Beautifully rendered…

Patti Smith’s beautifully rendered memoir — set in the bohemian glamour of the Chelsea Hotel in the late ’60s — chronicles her loving relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and their early years as struggling artists.

Description

In Just Kids, Patti Smith's first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. 

An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work-from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

A HarperAudio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Jul 26, 2011
ISBN:
9780062111678
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Her seminal album Horses, bearing Robert Mapplethorpe’s renowned photograph, hasbeen hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time. Her books include M Train, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence.


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Reviews

What people think about Just Kids

4.4
214 ratings / 131 Reviews
What did you think?
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Although I like some of Patti Smith's music, I knew nothing about her personal life. I didn't even know of her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. This book changed that.Early in the book, I was surprised that she remembered horse-drawn ice trucks. She is less than two years older than I, but perhaps that is the difference between her east coast and my west coast. I was also surprised when she said there was “no available birth control” in 1966. But those were only minor examples of how different her life was from mine.This book mentioned lots of people I probably should recognize but don't. It got a bit boring, a bit repetitious for me. There was so much detail I just couldn't care about as much as I should have. Lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, to use a cliché. With all that, what bothered me more than it should have was the author's casual mention of theft when she didn't have enough money, when theft was the convenient way to get what she wanted. The theft didn't bother me as much as the casual attitude toward it.I admit that Robert Mapplethorpe was a good artist, but I only knew him for his controversial work, specifically the controversy and publicity over his photo of a crucifix in a glass of piss. I did find some of the looks into his life interesting, and I Googled some of his art. While he was very talented and some of his photography is sublime, much of it is just too raw and too brutal for me.I listened to the audio edition of this book, and the author did a good job of reading her own work, although her occasional pronunciation caught me off guard: piano became piana, yellow became yella.While this was an interesting look at the author's life, it's not a favorite of mine. Still, I think it will appeal to fans of Patti Smith.
  • (5/5)
    Just Kids is a beautifully written memoir about the friendship between Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe who met in New York City in the 1960s. They were friends, lovers (until Maplethorpe figured out that he preferred men) and true soul mates who maintained a special friendship until Maplethorpe's death in the late 1980s.
  • (4/5)
    A book that unexpectedly made me very cheerful. I'm not sure why, but I think it was the frenzy of doing things you love but not quite knowing how to - which adds up to some kind of aimlessness, still enjoying the place you are (and maybe that is why there is no hurry anywhere). In short, I could relate to this story and it tasted like life.
  • (3/5)
    I saw Patti Smith in concert about 10 years ago and found her energy amazing, but haven't really dug into her oeuvre. This section of her life, her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe is interesting and covers an interesting bit of cultural history, but suffers from the things I don't like about memoirs - the dreaminess, the gaps, the name dropping. Despite the annoyances, it was an engaging story.
  • (3/5)
    I loved Just Kids. It is my top five of favorite books. This is why I was so surprised that the Just Kids Illustrated did not move me or add anything to my overall experience of reading the book. If anything it distracted me from the beauty of the words, the story of their love and commitment to their art and creativity. This is just personal preference and not anything inherently wrong or flawed with the book. For me just being immersed in the feelings, experience and beauty of the original book is enough.Thank you to Edelweiss for allowing me to review this book for an honest opinion.
  • (4/5)
    Patti Smith's memoir about her enduring relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and their development as artists during the 60's and 70's in New York City. It is as much about their special bond as it is about their work and how they came to be well known.
  • (5/5)
    April 17, 1976. The first time I ever saw Patti Smith was during her memorable appearance on Saturday Night Live. I was 13 and just getting turned on to punk rock — The Ramones, Blondie, Boomtown Rats…and Patti Smith. I remember being fascinated by what I saw but also more than a little puzzled. There was something more there than just music. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was art with a capital A.

    As I grew older, I also grew fairly tired of the harsh, dissonant sound of punk. It seemed to me it became an affectation rather than a belief, an excuse rather than a stand. But I never grew tired of Patti Smith and her raspy, atonal vocals and raw, poetic lyrics. After awhile though, she disappeared and I forgot about her and her music/art.

    Until I read a review of Just Kids, which I knew I had to get my hands on.

    Just Kids is the story of Smith and her lover/friend/soulmate Robert Mapplethorpe, a trailblazer in his own right. Smith’s elegant, lyrical prose begins with her own childhood and eventually blends into her early life in NYC, where she wandered the streets alone, until she met Mapplethorpe.

    She describes their early life together as one full of discovery and expression — both creating art as they felt it and experienced it in their daily lives. Objects held great importance for Smith and Mapplethorpe – how objects are made, used, treasured, seen. Smith used words and music to describe, while Mapplethorpe used the camera and both succeeded in making us see things differently.

    Smith opens a window into the NYS art scene of the 70s and 80s, populated by such people as Andy Warhol and his entourage. While she writes about living and interacting with people now considered icons, Smith makes them all seem like regular human beings living out their purpose. None of the woke up one day and said “I’m going to create an icon today.” Instead they simply lived their lives and created as they went.

    Art was as natural to them as breathing.

    Throughout it all, Smith gives a human voice to Mapplethorpe, who continues to be considered one of the most controversial artists ever. He was just a beautiful boy trying to help people look at the ordinary and see the extraordinary.

    Smith handles Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS with gentleness and authentic remorse. She uses a number of his photos of her throughout the book which reveal a stark but elegant beauty. Her account of Mapplethorpe’s last days and the aftermath of his death is heartbreaking.

    Just Kids is a beautiful book and well worth the reading.

    Mapplethorpe asks Smith at the end, “Did Art get us, Patti?” Maybe it did.
  • (4/5)
    Patti Smith's acclaimed memoir about her long, complicated, strange, and deeply intimate relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe.I have to say, there is absolutely no reason for me to think this was a book I was going to like. I have only the vaguest familiarity with Patti Smith's music, and I know Mapplethorpe's work only by reputation. I have absolutely no interest in the NYC arts scene of the 60s and 70s, and the bohemian lifestyle she depicts here has less than zero appeal for me. But I'd heard so many good things about this book that I figured I ought to check it out anyway, and I'm not sorry I did.The writing is fairly compelling. There's a poetic sensibility to it that might almost be bit overdone, but which ultimately avoids feeling too pretentious by virtue of the fact that there's also a deep sense of sincerity and genuine emotion to it. It's impossible not to respect that, and hard not to be affected by it. When she talked about the days before and after Mapplethorpe's death, I honestly got kind of choked up. And whatever I do or don't relate to, this is an interesting glimpse into a particular time and place and culture, and into the lives of some complex, passionate people.
  • (5/5)
    “Patti, no!”There are so many places throughout this book where Robert affectionately scolds Patti for something or other, and it’s so incredibly endearing.I started Just Kids back in winter, but was too busy to finish it, but not before a coworker told me she’d been reading it too. I recently borrowed her copy to finally reach the end. She also admitted to me that she couldn’t bring herself to finish the last several pages, which, admittedly, are very depressing. Beautiful, but depressing.Smith and Mapplethorpe have an interesting and sometimes arduous journey, but they are truly manna to one another. They took care of each other, oftentimes in ways that no one else could understand.I’ve loved Smith’s music for a long time, but after reading this book, I feel like I’m discovering it all for the first time.
  • (1/5)
    Just boring name dropping.
  • (4/5)
    Just kids is a memoir written by the American punk rock singer Patti Smith about the period in her early career when she lived together with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It is a very readable book that gives a very warm and fuzzy peek into the 1960s and 1970s. As the title suggests, the memoir focusses on the innocent side of their lives. Hardly any mention is made of Mapplethorpe's homosexuality, to the extent that the reader is led to believe that Smith and Mapplethorpe were not just room-mates, but de facto lovers. It does not become clear whether this was a part of deceit on Mapplethorpe's side or Smith's delusion. It seems the innocence of the memoir seems a ploy to prolong the naivete and illusion that they were more than just room-mates.
  • (4/5)
    A well written book which I nevertheless found increasingly frustrating: Patti Smith's portrayal of her long relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and their mutual circle of poets, artists and musicians, is deep and tender, but what I really wanted to know about was the Patti Smith Group era, and after lots of tantalising lead-up, this is almost entirely skipped over - so as far as I was concerned, the book was like an LP where all the best music had been swallowed by the hole in the middle.
  • (5/5)
    I have to admit, I knew very little about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe prior to reading "Just Kids". I'm so glad that my ignorance didn't stop me from picking this memoir about Patti's relationship with Robert, and the story of their lives together. Patti and Robert were in their late teen years when they first ran into each other in New York City. Drawn together by their shared need to create, Patti and Robert began their relationship with almost nothing, barely getting by without money to even eat consistently. Patti eventually found work in bookstores and reviewing records for magazines and Robert picked up odd jobs or occasionally by hustling for sex with men on 42nd street to bring in extra income. Patti dreamed of becoming a famous poet and Robert was a mixed media artist, without any connections to sell his work.Life began to change for the couple, who were primarily roommates and best friends, after they moved into the famous and historic Hotel Chelsea, where emerging rock stars, artists, and writers of all types lived in the 1960's and 70's. Having grown up in a conservative Catholic family, Robert struggled to understand his homosexuality and began exploring his conflicts through his art and relationships with men. Patti began to have other relationships as well, mostly shortlived but supportive, as both she and Robert began to cultivate small successes in the art world. Robert was particularly drawn to the work of Andy Warhol and he coerced Patti to come with him to hang out in the places those in Warhol's inner circles were known to frequent. As both began to achieve real success, Patti met the man who would become her husband and Robert drew close to his partner and each went their own way. Within a few years, however, Robert contracted AIDS, which eventually lead to his untimely death at the age of 42. Patti's memoir of their lives together is an interesting and emotionally evocative story of two young kids without anything but a love for art and music, who cultivated creativity and success in the other. I really enjoyed reading about their lives and I was particularly drawn to Patti's descriptions of Robert, as she described him as a haunted but passionate soul, consumed with exploring and exposing the forbidden in society. An excellent and very well written account of love, art, and the NYC art scene in the 60's & 70's.
  • (4/5)
    Just a little bit too much pointless namedropping, though.
  • (4/5)
    I didn't think I was going to like this at first, but once Smith gets into her stride and talks about her life with Mapplethorpe in late 60s/early 70s New York, it is fascinating. What an incredible time to be an artist, learning from those who blazed a trail before them and inventing something new for themselves. Smith was in love with Mapplethorpe, and that affects her story telling, but the tough existence they had still comes through. I didn't know much about either of them as people before I read this book, although I admired her as an artist. I warmed to her as a person.
  • (4/5)
    Gorgeously written, the prose is lyrical and evocative in it's own right. Patti Smith's memoir about her early relationship with photographer and artist, Robert Mapplethorpe, during the late sixties and secenties in New York is a treat for anyone. Before reading this book, I didn't know much about Patti Smith and I knew nothing about Mapplethorpe, but afterwards I felt as if I knew them intimately. Patti does a wonderful job plotting the trajectory of their friendship, their time as lovers, and their work as artists. The drugs, the art, the music, the style, the culture, the emotions; all are encased in this tiny little memoir. It's like looking into a time capsule, everything is captured so well. The creative process behind their art, the accompanying photographs, the depth of meaning behind the unsaid and said. A wonderful read, well deserving of the national book award.
  • (4/5)
    I was really enthralled with this book. I haven't read a lot of creative non-fiction, but this captured my interest. Although the story slowed towards the end, I truly fell in love with both Patti and Robert and their story. I fell in love with New York City in the 1960s and '70s. I envied the artists (literary, musicians, and artists) that Patti and Robert brushed shoulders with. The story was a great glimpse into that artistic and cultural time. I really enjoyed reading their story.
  • (4/5)
    Creativity, how this urge manifests itself in two originals in manhattan in the late 60's to 60's. Smith and Mapplethorp were each others muse and champion. Incredible book that doesn't fit a mold. Smith is an incredible story teller of her youth better than my review.
  • (5/5)
    When you read a book you relate it to your own experiences. So this review will be filled with name dropping and how it relates to myself. I used to work in the East Village bars for more then 10 years and yes i wrote a book about that Barstool Prophets ebook. During that time I not only met Patti Smith but Lenny Kaye, Jane Friedman, Jack Walls, Joey Ramone, Joe Strummer and many more. When Patti buys a floppy felt hat from JJ Hat Center on 5th Avenue it's the same place I buy my own hats. So when reading this book I can't separate my experiences meeting these people from the text variation of their former selves. Lenny Kaye standing at the end of the bar placing the needle on the record as he Dj's our Wednesday night party, it's all too real. Side note: He's one of the nicest persons I have met in NYC. Why should you get this book? It's masterfully written. If you are an artist, enjoy the arts or just want to understand what drives artists, this is the book for you. There is a phrase you will hear from the old timers "I miss the old New York" You might think to yourself, you miss the crime, blackouts, crumbling burnt out buildings? Just Kids, will enlightening you to the fact the even in the middle of the hell this city used to be, it possessed a magical ability to bring creative likeminded people together without the worry of high rents. True you might get stabbed by a junkie looking to score some easy cash, but you might also hang out with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin or Jim Carroll.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. It's surprising how soothing this book is, given Smith's electric performances and material, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the New York music/underground scene of the seventies.
  • (5/5)
    This is a great book. Well written, thoroughly engaging and heartbreaking.
  • (5/5)
    Early in their friendship Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe donned their bohemian finery--she her "beatnik sandals and ragged scarves" and Robert "love beads and sheepskin vest"--and went to spend an afternoon in Washington Square Park. As they walked toward the fountain an older couple took note of them. "'Oh, take their picture,' said the woman to her bemused husband, "I think they're artists.' 'Oh, go on,' he shrugged. 'They're just kids.'" Just Kids is a sweet, charming account of the time Patti and Robert spent together--as lovers, as friends, as growing artists--in New York in the late sixties and early seventies. Smith's prose is lovely, at times oddly formal, but always evocative and fun. She recounts their extreme poverty, as she worked as a bookseller at Scribner's to support them, while Robert did odd jobs and both worked on their art. They lived among artists and poets and Robert aspired to society, first working them into the Warhol set (although rarely in the immediate orbit of the man himself) and then beyond. Smith's story is packed with anecdotes of meetings--sometimes chance and fleeting, sometimes of longer duration and intensity--with such people as Jimi Hendrix (who took pity on her when he came upon her, sitting on the steps to his Electric Ladyland studio but too shy to go in, and chatted her up for a few minutes) and Allen Ginsberg (who bought her a sandwich and coffee at the Automat when she didn't have enough money, and several minutes into their meal together looked at her intently and asked "Are you a girl?" She got the picture immediately, but he said "my mistake," and they continued their meal amiably). Just Kids is not so much a study of the development and growth of the art itself as it is about the two kids becoming artists. Smith's narrative skims across the taking off of their two careers like a stone across a pond, touching down lightly here and there with a story or an anecdote or a description of a photograph or a poem. The book is illustrated with Smith's drawings and Mapplethorpe's glorious photographs, and scattered throughout are poems and songs (including, in the coda at the end which tells of Mapplethorpe's death from AIDS in 1989, the last photos he took of Smith and her family and the poem she wrote for his memorial service at the Whitney Museum).
  • (5/5)
    thank you patti smith and robert. this book changed my life.?
  • (5/5)
    So eloquent, inspiring, and filled with true love and friendship. Thank you for narrating Patti. Xo
  • (5/5)
    Love how Pati reads this. Wow. thank you for sharing. It’s beautiful.
  • (5/5)
    Growing up in a home filled with music and art, Patti and Robert’s work was often a topic of discussion in our house. Not in judgement but in observation, awareness, and perspective. This book was such a loving tribute to the love and respect they had for each other. The devotion to their vision... pushing through uncertainty with the encouragement of the other....a true union of hearts. The blessing was to have Patti as the reader. On a deep and heartfelt level I have been changed. Thank you.
  • (5/5)
    This is a surprisingly coherent book from an acolyte of Arthur Rimbaud. That said, Patti is as lucid as she is vague, dim as she is bright and a little blue star in her own right.

    The book starts with Robert Mapplethorpe, her muse in a way, dying. Her loss is quite unfathomable to the reader, especially if their connections are unbeknownst to you. To me, they were.

    Patti writes of her growing up, of her parents, her siblings and early loss. And of sticking out, of dancing to Motown songs and discovering The Doors. But before that, discovering Rimbaud, a mind-bomb she'll (hopefully) never recover from.

    She finds her way on a trip to New York and can by chance afford the ride, and upon arriving is almost instantly rendered homeless. She avoids her family, destined to find her living in the new city. Destitute? No. She describes the new music coming from speakers as she meets people, especially a man who helps her along her way, guides her into ways of getting hold of food for next to nothing - and oftentimes for nothing, indeed.

    He leaves her life. And she meets her Robert. Their lives are instantly connected by a sort of lovelorn poet's mist - could also be described as being in love - which is then translated. And deconstructed. And thrown back into the mist.

    This is a masterfully written and typeset book, mixed with pictures from the days, both from Patti's and Robert's hands, drawings and photographs alike. Patti describes their relationship, how it unfolds and how they search for and/or make art, love, wisdom, escape, knowledge, friendship, work, food, money and travel.

    It's really good, and a very worth-while read not only to Patti Smith fanatics, but to anybody who's ever wanted to find their own way in love, life and art.
  • (4/5)
    There are many ways to view this tale, and I'll admit I found bits of it horrifying, especially how willing these two were to go without food. I didn't love the constant litany of artist/musician/celebrity names, many of whom I only barely knew about and even more that I didn't recognize at all. Overall the beauty of Smith's writing kept me engaged, and I do recommend this one, but I would wait until the current season of darkness passes to start this
  • (5/5)
    A beautiful book. The opening pages made me want to cry. The final pages, as the circle closed, did.Told with such beautiful prose, delicate, truthful, unapologetic. The pages are filled with love; for art, for music, for poetry, for people. Most of all, for Robert.This is a memoir from an extraordinary life, told in an extraordinarily beautiful way.
  • (4/5)
    The first 2/3rds of this is wonderful. It really is inspiring to see the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, which at times is so close they were practically under each other's skin. Sadly, the book loses energy as they grow apart. I suspect that Smith tried to keep the focus on their relationship to keep the book manageable, but as a result once that relationship wanes she runs out of things to say. Regardless, I did enjoy it. The time spent in the Hotel Chelsea alone is worth the reading time.