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It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous—the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

Topics: Counterculture, United States of America, New York City, Brooklyn, New York, Music, Art & Artists, Photography, Friendship, Love, Musicians, Celebrities, Love Story, Writers, Poignant, Heartfelt, Based on a True Story, Nostalgic, Provocative, Inspirational, Gritty, Passionate, Poetic, Touching, Adventurous, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll, Creativity, Coming of Age, Poverty, Sexuality, Fame, Homelessness, Pop Music, Writing, Death, Success, First Person Narration, 21st Century, 1960s, 1970s, Female Author, and American Author

Published: HarperCollins on Apr 20, 2010
ISBN: 9780062008442
List price: $6.99
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A poignant exercise of candid portraiture: tender, hilarious, moving, containing both seed and flower of two lives deeply entwined.

A book one only writes once all ghosts are put to bed, at least for a while. My admiration for Patti as artist and person is immeasurable.read more
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Just Kids is an achingly honest memoir of rock legend Patti Smith's coming of age as an artist, and could be considered part of the rare category of female Bildungsroman. This book is essential for it's intimate look at New York in teh late '60s and early '70s from the point of view of a disenfranchised outsider: an archetypal figure of the starving artist . . . .read more
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Easily readable due to voyeuristic factor, but also well written and thoughtful, with a great deal of detail and thought given to influences. Loved references to books, music, art. Totally jealous of her brass balls attitude at such a young age. Knew what she wanted and went straight for it. Sweet and touching elegy to Robert Mapplethorpe. Soulmates. Had a great time reading it.read more
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Just Kids is Patti Smith’s memoir of her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time on the edge, two kids who found each other on streets of New York and were determined to become artists.Just Kids doesn’t inundate the reader with biographical details about Mapplethorpe or too many of Smith, it‘s not a diarists memoir but more of an impressionistic one. Smith writes like her prose is poetry, it flows easily over the page, and flows easily from scene to scene as she and Mapplethorpe struggle to define themselves and their art. What it does give is a sense of the person Mapplethorpe was, a person who cared about Smith, and she about him. Her insight into Mapplethorpe is both sympathetic and empathetic, without seeming to have the forced perspective of hindsight. It may be, but Smith’s understanding and acceptance of Mapplethorpe’s dualities seem contemporaneous to the moment. We’re witness to the portentous moment Mapplethorpe is given his first camera, and when Smith was releasing her first album, Horses, she knew no one else but Mapplethorpe could do the cover photograph. Just Kids is interspersed with Mapplethorpe’s photographs of Smith.Smith has a good sense of humor about herself in this period, living at the Chelsea Hotel, Allen Ginsburg tried to pick her up because he thought she a good looking young man. Or how no one in her and Mapplethorpe’s circle believed she was neither a heroin addict nor a lesbian.Smith who claims among her influences, Rimbaud and Baudelaire, is firmly in the romantic vein, down to the presentation of the book with rough hewn page cuts and sepia wash, all combine to the nostalgic feel of the book. If someone were to write a memoir for me, this is what I would wish it to be.read more
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This book was just ok for me. While Patti Smith had an interesting life, the writing in this book was very stilted. Interesting stories from the 60s and 70s and nice highlights of many famous people. Patti Smith also had a very interesting career and rise to fame all highlighted here.read more
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Patti Smith has turned in a lovely, almost transcendent memoir of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. Two starving artists in New York- both of them destined for fame- what's not to love about that? Oh, and they were smack in the middle of all the happening music, all the beautiful people. While the events told in this book were unfolding, I was riveted by newspaper accounts of same, dreaming of a life less ordinary. Here is that life, writ large.

Smith's writing is mannered, precise and absolutely beautiful. Her tales have just a bit of distance, enough to let in some air and light. I knew how it would end, of course, but I found myself weeping just the same.

Highly recommended.read more
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A loving remembrance of youth, of a relationship past, but one that remained ongoing as long as either partner lived, because the interaction of the two was so central to the concept of self that both held. AIDS ultimately gave a sad ending to the narrative, but the telling of the story settles a promise made.read more
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Aw. This was nice. I cried a little on the bus when I finished it.read more
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Only knowing Mapplethorpe as the guy who did the explicitly erotic photographs, and Smith as one of my favorite singers, this book was pretty enlightening. Seeing Mapplethorpe through Smith's eyes softens the public persona of him some.Smith headed to New York from New Jersey to pursue her passion, art. Along the way she met up with Mapplethorpe, who rescued her from a bad date, and the two become best of friends and lovers. Inseparable, if not physically then in spirit, they remained by each others side until Robert's death from AIDS in 1989.While Patti traveled to Paris, Robert went on to discover different relationships with men. It seems, back in the 70s, that it wasn't always possible to be openly gay and and perhaps it was something that he continually fought with himself. He kept a physical relationship with Patti for some time despite the evidence that he preferred men. While I can't imagine how that could make for a happy life, denying part of who you are, being with Patti obviously made him very happy.Smith describes living at the Chelsea Hotel and hanging out with the likes of Jimi, Janis, Burroughs, and Harry Smith. And a lot more; those two really got around. She also chronicles the "luck" and hard work that helped make Mapplethorpe and herself the legends that they are today.read more
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Maybe I expected too much given the National Book Award.
Enjoyed parts of it immenselly. Smith is a talented storyteller. However, I never was able to get beyond the patronizing and sometimes pretentious overtones.read more
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I was never a big fan of Patti Smith, but I knew of her. Although our lifestyles are very different, she is just a few years older than me, so I was interested in her story, falling as it does across those same years that I too was just coming into adulthood. In Just Kids she tells of her life with her early love, Robert Mapplethorpe. She promised him that someday she would tell their story, and now, twenty years after his death, she has done so.I loved the way she wrote and told their story, theirs was an ever evolving relationship based on love, art, mutual protection and eventually everlasting friendship. Romantically, they took separate roads, but in essence they stayed true to their original love. Her description of his passing in 1986 from Aids was heart wrenching.My only concern with the book was that I feel it could have benefited from some editing. The basic story of the relationship was engrossing and interesting, but far too often I found myself bored as she wandered from the narrative into things that just didn’t hold my attention. That being said Patti Smith obviously has led an interesting and varied life, and her poetic side definitely added to her writing.For a few short years Patti and Robert were the free spirited souls that they wanted to be, mixing with an eclectic crowd, they embraced art, poetry and music. Unfortunately all too soon, they had to grow up abd face life's harsh realities.read more
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I have no ability to be objective about this book. A love story about a couple of scared and determined kids who through grit, belief, romance, talent and a bit of craziness found their way. A story about the transformational power of art and poetry. A story about love that crosses all of the constructs society generally places on it until the ugliness of the AIDS plague brought it to a stop for now. Five stars.read more
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Just Kids is as good as an autobiography can get: honest, captivating, inspiring, and at times moving. If you feel like reading it, you definitely should: you will enjoy it. It does not make sense to read it, however, if you are not interested in the arts, Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe, or at least the atmosphere of 1960s/70s New York, that is to say it is no literary master piece in itself.read more
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An amazing and affecting story of love and art.read more
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When I was just of high school, I'd wake my self up listening to Patti Smith's Easter, and drift off to sleep listening to the softer parts of Horses. Saint Patti is always going to be a part of my personal pantheon, so I approached this book very much from her corner.I was familiar with her words in two ways: first, from her poetry and lyrics, wild and cryptic visions, with flashes of dazzling intelligence and breadth of influence; second, from her interviews years ago where she pushed an aggressively harsh, crude and proletarian pose. I was a bit unprepared for the mannered voice of Just Kids. In this book, she looks back at her relationship with famed and controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, conveying memories softened by time and artifice. And that, I think, (that softening) is really at the heart of my mixed feelings for the book. She suffuses the book with a warm glow, from which all sharp pain has been removed. She paints a careful portrait of herself and Mapplethorpe as totally absorbed in art, sublimating all other concerns to that, not bothered at all by missing meals. I'm not sure how much of that to trust, how much is truth, versus self-deception, versus deliberate artifice. Given the meek, bookish, clean and sober persona she attributes to herself, I suspect a great deal of it is mean to be more true in spirit than in fact. Note that she very carefully controls what she says. One obvious point she never addresses is that of her own sexuality, nor what inclined her to the relationships she had.The more obvious faults really don't bother me in the least. Certainly, she thinks a great deal of herself. It's not exactly unheard of for artists to have an ego, and no one familiar with Patti Smith would have expected any less. In fact, I thought her egotistical superiority has, if anything, mellowed a bit with age.It's also a common criticism of this book that she "name drops." And my god, the book is full of names. But I think that accusation rather misses the point of what she's trying to do. She isn't name dropping in the usual sense of basking in these people's reflected glory. It's the exact opposite of that kind of insecurity. She's much more scouring her past for signs and portents of the celebrities she and Mapplethorpe would become. It's egotism, proof of he status as chosen by fate. She isn't saying "I'm cool cuz I like, met Hendrix, y'know?" She's saying that these were little indications that destiny was pursuing her.Overall, I'd say, an interesting if flawed book, well worth the time to read, but no masterpiece.read more
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Patti Smith must be the coolest mom on the block. I loved her when I was a weird teenager and I love that she is one of the few idols of my youth that still holds my interest and affection. This book is an incredible jump into Patti's New York City world of the 1970s. Patti, like Zelig, happened to be right in the middle of the action even before she became a celebrity herself. This book is about life and art and love and passion. I loved it. My only question while reading it was that I cannot imagine that the life as it was lived at the time was not darker and more desolate than the glowing campfire images that she paints, but, hey, she is the artist here and she gets to remember her early days any damn well way that she wants to.read more
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Some parts of this book are better than others, but on the whole this is a very interesting look at the “art for art’s sake” scene in the late 1970’s.read more
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A fascinating look at two young people bound together by their creative spirit at an exciting time in New York City (the 1960s & 70s) It just happens that the two famous people are musician/poet Patti Smith and photographer/artist Robert Maplethorpe. Patti's writing can be wearing at times (a bit self conscious to this reader) but she is never maudlin or sentimental. Further, she has great anecdotes about some pretty well-known folks (Gracie Slick said "hello yourself" to Patti's hello.. Allen Ginsberg tried to pick up Patti at a vendomat, mistaking her for a "pretty boy".. etc.) Of course, in the end their paths diverge -- along sexual and artistic lines -- and Maplethorpe dies of AIDS. Most of all, JUST KIDS is a testament to the drive that true artists possess (Patti and Robert would, at times, spend money on art supplies rather than food.)read more
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I loved this book. I'm not really a fan of Patti Smith's. I don't know her work but I'm going to look into it now. I hope I like her music as much as I enjoyed her writing. What a beautiful writer. Wonderful story. I couldn't put it down!read more
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Surprisingly good even though I'm not a Patti Smith fan (had barely heard of her) and still have trouble thinking of Mapplethorpe's male nude photos as anything but sick pornography. Still it's a very well-written book and good indepth study of some unique characters. Better than 80% of biographies, and that made it worth reading.read more
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Reading this book was like listening to a wonderful song. It is so lyrical, and well done, it felt like poetry."Just Kids" is the story of two artists, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti met Robert when they were both young, and broke on the streets of New York City and formed an unbreakable bond. From tiny apartments to the Chelsea Hotel, and on to fame, they stayed together through thick and thin. Lovers came and went, jobs, apartments and struggles followed them, but they pursued their art, each in their own way, but always together, keeping a vow they made when they were just kids.The combination of art, music and poetry is irresistible. And oh the people they knew. It is just amazing to read the stories of people we have known about for years.I loved this book, and found myself stalling as I neared the end, wanting it to go on and on. Patti Smith made me want to go back to being young and to join them in the joy and amazing times they shared. This book won the National Book Award, and it was well deserved. Bravo!!I purchased this book from The Tattered Cover, my favorite bookstore.read more
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Never an admirer of her or Mapplethorpe. Just kids is dark and beautiful. Dysfunction of music and art, at times frightening and difficult to comprehend. She is a poet and a wordsmith worth listening to. A female Bob Dylan.read more
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A wonderful and intimate book which made me emotional. I confess to knowing nothing about Patti prior this, other than she was the "Punk Priestess," and since I hated punk, I dismissed her.read more
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I read this book because it won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2010. It tells of the weird life the author lived in New York from 1965 till 1980. She was connected with Robert Mapplethorpe, who she lived with though he became homosexual after a time . They lived in poverty till she became famous and she eventually after living with other men married. I was appalled by much in the book and some of what she told about Mapplethorpe was revolting. I was glad to get to the last page. Nothing that interested the author did I find of much interest. But I suppose it was revealing in a way, though nothing made me admiratory of her or her friends.read more
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This is a very interesting look into a time and place few had access to. At its core, it is a friendship story between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, whose paths cross in New York City in the 1960s, and then we follow them for twenty years or so ~ amidst the Warhol hangers-on, the Chelsea Hotel and all of the creative people who made that scene come alive. It is also a candid look at what one sacrifices for art. Interestingly, during most of the story, the art we learn about wasn't the art these two each became famous for. So it's also a glimpse into two people's creative journies towards their ultimate voice, medium, etc. Their struggles and frustrations to create great art were palpable ~ they REALLY believed in it. Although really, the story leaves off before we really get to see their rises to "fame" for her music and his photography (although we see a bit of it). My complaints are that Ms. Smith is a so-so writer, but then, her humbleness and kindness comes across this way and might not if the writing was different. Also, sometimes I did think, egads, what a couple of whiners! But they were incredibly self-involved and I think that was honest. I don't really think this is "National Book Award" material, but for the most part, it was a very entertaining, quick and interesting read. Recommended, especially for artists (of all kinds) or anyone curious about the Warhol era NYC/Chelsea scene.read more
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a bit disingenuous at times but evocative, compelling, and wise.read more
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Patti Smith’s engaging memoir is both a wonderful portrait of her close but conflicted relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe and of New York in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The book went by very quickly though some parts in the middle are a little too full of name-dropping. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know who the people mentioned were. I wasn’t actually that familiar with Smith’s music or Mapplethorpe’s art – was vaguely aware of Smith as influential and Mapplethorpe as controversial so it was nice to learn about how they came to prominence. Smith compares her childhood to Mapplethorpe’s with a nice eye for detail. Even then, art and poetry was a refuge from her dull career prospects, though her family was more supportive than Mapplethorpe’s. In New York, Smith describes a long period of poverty and at times homelessness. After a couple chance meetings, Smith and Mapplethorpe instantly connected and became inseparable both in work and love. Though the pair found comfort in each other and their art, they were always dealing with money problems, cramped apartments, lice and illnesses. The first section of them together has a wonderful sheen of idealism and nostalgia despite the continual scraping for money. Smith relates their occasional joys and the steady work they did together. She notes that she often was blocked but Mapplethorpe was always working. When he became withdrawn, she assumed it was an artistic problem. He eventually revealed that he wasn’t sure about his sexuality, left for a while, then came back with a boyfriend. Smith did not handle the revelation well and after some unhappiness, they got back together. Moving into the Chelsea Hotel was a new chapter in their work and life. At the hotel, they met various people in the underground and avant-garde art scene in NY. Mapplethorpe was determined to get in with famous artists and high society but Smith preferred to stay with their circle. She did meet a number of people who encouraged her and gave her opportunities to act and perform. The rift between the couple widened when Mapplethorpe started a relationship with one of their acquaintances – a man – but they still remained dedicated to each other and their art. Sometimes this section could be a bit like a list of famous people they met but Smith keeps the focus on their relationship. They both worried about the other finding success, making suggestions and proud of accomplishments even when their romantic relationship was troubled. Mapplethorpe had two supportive partners who helped him make connections in the art world and enabled him to focus on his work. He transitioned to photography and Smith describes the start of her music and performances and ends when her career takes off and their time of living together ended. The last couple chapters deal with Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS related complications. Smith promised him to tell the story of their relationship and this fine book is the result.read more
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I've lived with the work of both these artists for so long I can't say I learned much but sometimes it is good to go back home. This is the first thing I've read of Smith's that wasn't totally abstract and broken apart. A few passages had me weepy in the staff lounge.read more
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Loved it! Patti Smith is a great writer, and this book was very interesting. Highly recommended.read more
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A beautifully written, intimate and vivid memoir in which Smith chronicles her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe seem the very definition of "soul mates." It's a poignant love story. Smith also offers great snapshots of the NYC art, literary music scenes of the late 60s and early 70s.read more
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A poignant exercise of candid portraiture: tender, hilarious, moving, containing both seed and flower of two lives deeply entwined.

A book one only writes once all ghosts are put to bed, at least for a while. My admiration for Patti as artist and person is immeasurable.
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Just Kids is an achingly honest memoir of rock legend Patti Smith's coming of age as an artist, and could be considered part of the rare category of female Bildungsroman. This book is essential for it's intimate look at New York in teh late '60s and early '70s from the point of view of a disenfranchised outsider: an archetypal figure of the starving artist . . . .
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Easily readable due to voyeuristic factor, but also well written and thoughtful, with a great deal of detail and thought given to influences. Loved references to books, music, art. Totally jealous of her brass balls attitude at such a young age. Knew what she wanted and went straight for it. Sweet and touching elegy to Robert Mapplethorpe. Soulmates. Had a great time reading it.
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Just Kids is Patti Smith’s memoir of her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time on the edge, two kids who found each other on streets of New York and were determined to become artists.Just Kids doesn’t inundate the reader with biographical details about Mapplethorpe or too many of Smith, it‘s not a diarists memoir but more of an impressionistic one. Smith writes like her prose is poetry, it flows easily over the page, and flows easily from scene to scene as she and Mapplethorpe struggle to define themselves and their art. What it does give is a sense of the person Mapplethorpe was, a person who cared about Smith, and she about him. Her insight into Mapplethorpe is both sympathetic and empathetic, without seeming to have the forced perspective of hindsight. It may be, but Smith’s understanding and acceptance of Mapplethorpe’s dualities seem contemporaneous to the moment. We’re witness to the portentous moment Mapplethorpe is given his first camera, and when Smith was releasing her first album, Horses, she knew no one else but Mapplethorpe could do the cover photograph. Just Kids is interspersed with Mapplethorpe’s photographs of Smith.Smith has a good sense of humor about herself in this period, living at the Chelsea Hotel, Allen Ginsburg tried to pick her up because he thought she a good looking young man. Or how no one in her and Mapplethorpe’s circle believed she was neither a heroin addict nor a lesbian.Smith who claims among her influences, Rimbaud and Baudelaire, is firmly in the romantic vein, down to the presentation of the book with rough hewn page cuts and sepia wash, all combine to the nostalgic feel of the book. If someone were to write a memoir for me, this is what I would wish it to be.
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This book was just ok for me. While Patti Smith had an interesting life, the writing in this book was very stilted. Interesting stories from the 60s and 70s and nice highlights of many famous people. Patti Smith also had a very interesting career and rise to fame all highlighted here.
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Patti Smith has turned in a lovely, almost transcendent memoir of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. Two starving artists in New York- both of them destined for fame- what's not to love about that? Oh, and they were smack in the middle of all the happening music, all the beautiful people. While the events told in this book were unfolding, I was riveted by newspaper accounts of same, dreaming of a life less ordinary. Here is that life, writ large.

Smith's writing is mannered, precise and absolutely beautiful. Her tales have just a bit of distance, enough to let in some air and light. I knew how it would end, of course, but I found myself weeping just the same.

Highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A loving remembrance of youth, of a relationship past, but one that remained ongoing as long as either partner lived, because the interaction of the two was so central to the concept of self that both held. AIDS ultimately gave a sad ending to the narrative, but the telling of the story settles a promise made.
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Aw. This was nice. I cried a little on the bus when I finished it.
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Only knowing Mapplethorpe as the guy who did the explicitly erotic photographs, and Smith as one of my favorite singers, this book was pretty enlightening. Seeing Mapplethorpe through Smith's eyes softens the public persona of him some.Smith headed to New York from New Jersey to pursue her passion, art. Along the way she met up with Mapplethorpe, who rescued her from a bad date, and the two become best of friends and lovers. Inseparable, if not physically then in spirit, they remained by each others side until Robert's death from AIDS in 1989.While Patti traveled to Paris, Robert went on to discover different relationships with men. It seems, back in the 70s, that it wasn't always possible to be openly gay and and perhaps it was something that he continually fought with himself. He kept a physical relationship with Patti for some time despite the evidence that he preferred men. While I can't imagine how that could make for a happy life, denying part of who you are, being with Patti obviously made him very happy.Smith describes living at the Chelsea Hotel and hanging out with the likes of Jimi, Janis, Burroughs, and Harry Smith. And a lot more; those two really got around. She also chronicles the "luck" and hard work that helped make Mapplethorpe and herself the legends that they are today.
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Maybe I expected too much given the National Book Award.
Enjoyed parts of it immenselly. Smith is a talented storyteller. However, I never was able to get beyond the patronizing and sometimes pretentious overtones.
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I was never a big fan of Patti Smith, but I knew of her. Although our lifestyles are very different, she is just a few years older than me, so I was interested in her story, falling as it does across those same years that I too was just coming into adulthood. In Just Kids she tells of her life with her early love, Robert Mapplethorpe. She promised him that someday she would tell their story, and now, twenty years after his death, she has done so.I loved the way she wrote and told their story, theirs was an ever evolving relationship based on love, art, mutual protection and eventually everlasting friendship. Romantically, they took separate roads, but in essence they stayed true to their original love. Her description of his passing in 1986 from Aids was heart wrenching.My only concern with the book was that I feel it could have benefited from some editing. The basic story of the relationship was engrossing and interesting, but far too often I found myself bored as she wandered from the narrative into things that just didn’t hold my attention. That being said Patti Smith obviously has led an interesting and varied life, and her poetic side definitely added to her writing.For a few short years Patti and Robert were the free spirited souls that they wanted to be, mixing with an eclectic crowd, they embraced art, poetry and music. Unfortunately all too soon, they had to grow up abd face life's harsh realities.
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I have no ability to be objective about this book. A love story about a couple of scared and determined kids who through grit, belief, romance, talent and a bit of craziness found their way. A story about the transformational power of art and poetry. A story about love that crosses all of the constructs society generally places on it until the ugliness of the AIDS plague brought it to a stop for now. Five stars.
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Just Kids is as good as an autobiography can get: honest, captivating, inspiring, and at times moving. If you feel like reading it, you definitely should: you will enjoy it. It does not make sense to read it, however, if you are not interested in the arts, Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe, or at least the atmosphere of 1960s/70s New York, that is to say it is no literary master piece in itself.
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An amazing and affecting story of love and art.
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When I was just of high school, I'd wake my self up listening to Patti Smith's Easter, and drift off to sleep listening to the softer parts of Horses. Saint Patti is always going to be a part of my personal pantheon, so I approached this book very much from her corner.I was familiar with her words in two ways: first, from her poetry and lyrics, wild and cryptic visions, with flashes of dazzling intelligence and breadth of influence; second, from her interviews years ago where she pushed an aggressively harsh, crude and proletarian pose. I was a bit unprepared for the mannered voice of Just Kids. In this book, she looks back at her relationship with famed and controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, conveying memories softened by time and artifice. And that, I think, (that softening) is really at the heart of my mixed feelings for the book. She suffuses the book with a warm glow, from which all sharp pain has been removed. She paints a careful portrait of herself and Mapplethorpe as totally absorbed in art, sublimating all other concerns to that, not bothered at all by missing meals. I'm not sure how much of that to trust, how much is truth, versus self-deception, versus deliberate artifice. Given the meek, bookish, clean and sober persona she attributes to herself, I suspect a great deal of it is mean to be more true in spirit than in fact. Note that she very carefully controls what she says. One obvious point she never addresses is that of her own sexuality, nor what inclined her to the relationships she had.The more obvious faults really don't bother me in the least. Certainly, she thinks a great deal of herself. It's not exactly unheard of for artists to have an ego, and no one familiar with Patti Smith would have expected any less. In fact, I thought her egotistical superiority has, if anything, mellowed a bit with age.It's also a common criticism of this book that she "name drops." And my god, the book is full of names. But I think that accusation rather misses the point of what she's trying to do. She isn't name dropping in the usual sense of basking in these people's reflected glory. It's the exact opposite of that kind of insecurity. She's much more scouring her past for signs and portents of the celebrities she and Mapplethorpe would become. It's egotism, proof of he status as chosen by fate. She isn't saying "I'm cool cuz I like, met Hendrix, y'know?" She's saying that these were little indications that destiny was pursuing her.Overall, I'd say, an interesting if flawed book, well worth the time to read, but no masterpiece.
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Patti Smith must be the coolest mom on the block. I loved her when I was a weird teenager and I love that she is one of the few idols of my youth that still holds my interest and affection. This book is an incredible jump into Patti's New York City world of the 1970s. Patti, like Zelig, happened to be right in the middle of the action even before she became a celebrity herself. This book is about life and art and love and passion. I loved it. My only question while reading it was that I cannot imagine that the life as it was lived at the time was not darker and more desolate than the glowing campfire images that she paints, but, hey, she is the artist here and she gets to remember her early days any damn well way that she wants to.
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Some parts of this book are better than others, but on the whole this is a very interesting look at the “art for art’s sake” scene in the late 1970’s.
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A fascinating look at two young people bound together by their creative spirit at an exciting time in New York City (the 1960s & 70s) It just happens that the two famous people are musician/poet Patti Smith and photographer/artist Robert Maplethorpe. Patti's writing can be wearing at times (a bit self conscious to this reader) but she is never maudlin or sentimental. Further, she has great anecdotes about some pretty well-known folks (Gracie Slick said "hello yourself" to Patti's hello.. Allen Ginsberg tried to pick up Patti at a vendomat, mistaking her for a "pretty boy".. etc.) Of course, in the end their paths diverge -- along sexual and artistic lines -- and Maplethorpe dies of AIDS. Most of all, JUST KIDS is a testament to the drive that true artists possess (Patti and Robert would, at times, spend money on art supplies rather than food.)
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I loved this book. I'm not really a fan of Patti Smith's. I don't know her work but I'm going to look into it now. I hope I like her music as much as I enjoyed her writing. What a beautiful writer. Wonderful story. I couldn't put it down!
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Surprisingly good even though I'm not a Patti Smith fan (had barely heard of her) and still have trouble thinking of Mapplethorpe's male nude photos as anything but sick pornography. Still it's a very well-written book and good indepth study of some unique characters. Better than 80% of biographies, and that made it worth reading.
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Reading this book was like listening to a wonderful song. It is so lyrical, and well done, it felt like poetry."Just Kids" is the story of two artists, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Patti met Robert when they were both young, and broke on the streets of New York City and formed an unbreakable bond. From tiny apartments to the Chelsea Hotel, and on to fame, they stayed together through thick and thin. Lovers came and went, jobs, apartments and struggles followed them, but they pursued their art, each in their own way, but always together, keeping a vow they made when they were just kids.The combination of art, music and poetry is irresistible. And oh the people they knew. It is just amazing to read the stories of people we have known about for years.I loved this book, and found myself stalling as I neared the end, wanting it to go on and on. Patti Smith made me want to go back to being young and to join them in the joy and amazing times they shared. This book won the National Book Award, and it was well deserved. Bravo!!I purchased this book from The Tattered Cover, my favorite bookstore.
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Never an admirer of her or Mapplethorpe. Just kids is dark and beautiful. Dysfunction of music and art, at times frightening and difficult to comprehend. She is a poet and a wordsmith worth listening to. A female Bob Dylan.
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A wonderful and intimate book which made me emotional. I confess to knowing nothing about Patti prior this, other than she was the "Punk Priestess," and since I hated punk, I dismissed her.
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I read this book because it won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2010. It tells of the weird life the author lived in New York from 1965 till 1980. She was connected with Robert Mapplethorpe, who she lived with though he became homosexual after a time . They lived in poverty till she became famous and she eventually after living with other men married. I was appalled by much in the book and some of what she told about Mapplethorpe was revolting. I was glad to get to the last page. Nothing that interested the author did I find of much interest. But I suppose it was revealing in a way, though nothing made me admiratory of her or her friends.
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This is a very interesting look into a time and place few had access to. At its core, it is a friendship story between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, whose paths cross in New York City in the 1960s, and then we follow them for twenty years or so ~ amidst the Warhol hangers-on, the Chelsea Hotel and all of the creative people who made that scene come alive. It is also a candid look at what one sacrifices for art. Interestingly, during most of the story, the art we learn about wasn't the art these two each became famous for. So it's also a glimpse into two people's creative journies towards their ultimate voice, medium, etc. Their struggles and frustrations to create great art were palpable ~ they REALLY believed in it. Although really, the story leaves off before we really get to see their rises to "fame" for her music and his photography (although we see a bit of it). My complaints are that Ms. Smith is a so-so writer, but then, her humbleness and kindness comes across this way and might not if the writing was different. Also, sometimes I did think, egads, what a couple of whiners! But they were incredibly self-involved and I think that was honest. I don't really think this is "National Book Award" material, but for the most part, it was a very entertaining, quick and interesting read. Recommended, especially for artists (of all kinds) or anyone curious about the Warhol era NYC/Chelsea scene.
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a bit disingenuous at times but evocative, compelling, and wise.
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Patti Smith’s engaging memoir is both a wonderful portrait of her close but conflicted relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe and of New York in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The book went by very quickly though some parts in the middle are a little too full of name-dropping. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to know who the people mentioned were. I wasn’t actually that familiar with Smith’s music or Mapplethorpe’s art – was vaguely aware of Smith as influential and Mapplethorpe as controversial so it was nice to learn about how they came to prominence. Smith compares her childhood to Mapplethorpe’s with a nice eye for detail. Even then, art and poetry was a refuge from her dull career prospects, though her family was more supportive than Mapplethorpe’s. In New York, Smith describes a long period of poverty and at times homelessness. After a couple chance meetings, Smith and Mapplethorpe instantly connected and became inseparable both in work and love. Though the pair found comfort in each other and their art, they were always dealing with money problems, cramped apartments, lice and illnesses. The first section of them together has a wonderful sheen of idealism and nostalgia despite the continual scraping for money. Smith relates their occasional joys and the steady work they did together. She notes that she often was blocked but Mapplethorpe was always working. When he became withdrawn, she assumed it was an artistic problem. He eventually revealed that he wasn’t sure about his sexuality, left for a while, then came back with a boyfriend. Smith did not handle the revelation well and after some unhappiness, they got back together. Moving into the Chelsea Hotel was a new chapter in their work and life. At the hotel, they met various people in the underground and avant-garde art scene in NY. Mapplethorpe was determined to get in with famous artists and high society but Smith preferred to stay with their circle. She did meet a number of people who encouraged her and gave her opportunities to act and perform. The rift between the couple widened when Mapplethorpe started a relationship with one of their acquaintances – a man – but they still remained dedicated to each other and their art. Sometimes this section could be a bit like a list of famous people they met but Smith keeps the focus on their relationship. They both worried about the other finding success, making suggestions and proud of accomplishments even when their romantic relationship was troubled. Mapplethorpe had two supportive partners who helped him make connections in the art world and enabled him to focus on his work. He transitioned to photography and Smith describes the start of her music and performances and ends when her career takes off and their time of living together ended. The last couple chapters deal with Mapplethorpe’s death from AIDS related complications. Smith promised him to tell the story of their relationship and this fine book is the result.
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I've lived with the work of both these artists for so long I can't say I learned much but sometimes it is good to go back home. This is the first thing I've read of Smith's that wasn't totally abstract and broken apart. A few passages had me weepy in the staff lounge.
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Loved it! Patti Smith is a great writer, and this book was very interesting. Highly recommended.
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A beautifully written, intimate and vivid memoir in which Smith chronicles her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith and Mapplethorpe seem the very definition of "soul mates." It's a poignant love story. Smith also offers great snapshots of the NYC art, literary music scenes of the late 60s and early 70s.
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