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Paperback Just Kids Book

ISBN: 0060936223

ISBN13: 9780060936228

Just Kids

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Book Overview

WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 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...

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

New York Counterculture

This is a great bio of the early years of Patti Smith, her struggles in New York and her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. There is a lot of glimpses of the New York counterculture, the artsy intellectual community and the way it was in the late 60’s. The book never showed the emotional side of Smith. She was a truly multitalented artist/writer of her age

Amazing

this book is excellent! she is so talented! The way she described New York in the 70's made me fall in love with this city even more, but, despite that, the way she writes takes you to places, A MUST

So Crazy I Knew I Could Break Thru With You

I just finished reading Patti Smith's "Just Kids." I read it like a glutton. Scarfing it up, page by page, long into the night. Occasionally I would have a glass of wine, or put it down to think back to my own memories of New York from the late '60's +. It's a book filled with possibilities. Patti's mantra, possibilities, "one who siezes possibilities," sung in "Land." It's a book of drive, vision, ambition, talent, risk, verve, destiny, love, fidelity, friendship. I had to stop occasionally to wipe away a tear. The New York City of Patti's book doesn't exist anymore. Back then it was city on verge of bankruptcy. Back then you could actually afford to live in Manhattan, have a low pay job, go out at night, and live your dreams. If you spent your food money on art or seeing a band or nursing the two drink minimum you could see greatness every day of the week. New York City is culturally dead now. There is no community, art, music, culture. There is no longer a sea of possibilities. But as "Just Kids" sanctifies, testifies, signifies, artists will find a way. It's probably out there in the Rust Belt - with dead shells of former factories - or in the Heartland - or somewhere in America with foreclosing homes and decay - or some other country - somewhere - it's happening. Artists find a way because they can't help themselves. They are ornery and can't be contained. That's the message in "Just Kids," have a dream, make an oath, keep it real, do it. Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead! But back then, back in the day, the Dead Zone was New York City. We spilled out of Jersey, Long Island, BBQ Bridge & Tunnel crowd, who could no longer be contained. I first saw Patti on WOR on a Sunday night talking about graffiti subway cars as Jackson Pollack. I have "Seventh Heaven" and "Witt" with her evaporating signitures, "Ha Ha Houdini" in hand-minted offset typeface. She was the one with the true grit to climb out of the audience and get up there and do it. Robert Mapplethorpe I came to appreciate. It took me a while to warm to him. It took me a while to warm to him in "Just Kids." Patti makes a complex man human, and it's a loving portrait of an artist often sensationalized. Patti keeps at it until you see him through her eyes. As Sam Shepard paraphrased, his dream wasn't my dream. But it's a dream she knew well, and she uses all her talent to make it real for us. In "Just Kids," Patti and Robert's finding one another thru pure happenstance, is the stuff of kismet. Their support and love for one another is palpable. There is new information about both of them in this book that nobody but they could possibly know. This, if nothing else, makes this book necessary and vital. Nothing I've read about either Patti and Robert comes close to this book. I thought I'd read, heard, knew, everything about Patti Smith. We have mutual friends. I was at the same places, at the same time, as she. Robert Mapplethorpe is equally well documented. This is the stuff of the

As great as one of Patti Smith's live performances.

Have you ever awoken from a dream and yearned to tell someone close by all the seemingly concrete details that made so much sense in unconsciousness, but upon consciousness are rendered incomprehensible, even worse, banal when spoken? Or, have you ever had to retreat midway through a story about how interesting a scene or city was to have experienced with that sad qualifying statement: "Well, I guess you had to be there," those blank stares and yawns from listeners way too much to bear? Well, I have. Patti Smith has not, at least not in the case of her exquisite new memoir, "Just Kids". The difference between me and her is that my attempts to transcend mere description when writing about my past always deflates either into senseless name dropping or banal "my summer vacation essay" style explorations, whereas Smith, in "Just Kids," transcends all the pitfalls of the memoir genre and tells a poignant tale of two struggling artists in the late 60s - 70s in New York City--her and Robert Mapplethorpe--without sounding pompous, pretentious or boring. It's always the inexplicable that's most interesting. If you strip away what's ineffable about the spirit of a defining period of time you are left mainly with the banal: eating, sitting, hanging out, arguing, making money, paying rent, and so on. That's why memoirs are so difficult to execute and only a talented writer tempered with restraint, such as Patti Smith, can adequately do the genre any justice. As I was reading "Just Kids" I was continually struck with just how easy this book could have degenerated into a self-absorbed, indulgent tale of bohemianism and name dropping. The story itself is set up to lend itself to this sort of abuse. The fact is that Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe were in New York City during an especially vibrant and exciting time for art and artists and otherwise bohemian types. The beats, rock and roll, which was still relatively new and exciting, Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground: the list goes on: see, I'm name dropping; it's hard not to do! Instead, Smith uses a contemplative voice to recount her and Mapplethorpe's travails as they both went from two unknown starving artists to the great stars they later became. Where it could have been an appallingly boring story of braggadocio, such as telling the story of their ascendancy from front of the house to the "round table" at Max's Kansas City, instead is done masterfully through Smith's self-depreciation and reluctance. As much as the reader gets an insight into Robert Mapplethorpe, his personality, sexuality, and art, he still never lets the mystery of his character bleed through, certainly not a two dimensional character. In a way, he's the one holding the reader in suspense throughout the book. This demonstrates just how talented Smith was to carry this off--and how telling! for it was ultimately Smith who never completely came to an understanding of him. For instance, on numerous occasions she states her be

Memoir Served With Nostalgia & Humor

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.

Where friendship and art meet.

This is an interesting memoir, especially for fans of Mapelthrope or Patti Smith. For the younger generation who may not be familiar with these two names. Maplethorpe was a photographer with a style that was recognizable no matter his subject (he died of AIDs in his early 40s in 1989) and lets just say he wore his homosexuality proudly (for more on mapelthorpe I recommend Mapplethorpe: A Biography). Smith is the poet singer song writer often referred to as the grandma of punk rock and an activist for many causes to this very day. In this Memoir Smith writes about her relationship with Maplethorpe in the late and early 1970s before they became famous. I thought it was fascinating to read about these two icons before they realized who the were or wanted to be. Its hard not to think of Smith as a poet rebel, guitar in hand or Mapelthorpe as the in your face artist, but Smith's book takes the reader back to when both were "Just Kids." You see Smith and Maplethorpe as young people, not always secure in who they are, groping to find their passions that were burning inside but not fully understood. In this memoir Smith also presents a picture of a New York that no longer exists, and that alone makes this wonderful reading. Not all song writers can successfully write lyrics as well as prose, Smith though has a gift with the written word that is transcendent. Heart felt and honest, like her music, I highly recommend this book. For more honest reading concerning Hollywood Icons in the 1960s I have to recommend "Misfits Country."

How Patti Smith became Patti Smith...absolutely riveting!

Before she became the Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith was just some girl who came to New York in search of herself. We have a tendency to view her as always having been a rebel, guitar in hand, spouting her distinctive mix of poetry and invective at society. But the reality was that Smith came to New York as a refugee, uncertain of who she was and what she wanted to be. That's sometimes a bit hard to believe or realize, but in "Just Kids" Smith reveals just that: she wasn't one half as confident then as she is now, and that she had no idea what she was going to do once she arrived in New York. While this is true of almost everyone from her generation, it is somehow shocking and bizarre to ponder. More interesting was that her first lover and partner in New York was none other than future photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The bulk of "Just Kids" is Smith's recollection of Smith's early years in New York with Mapplethorpe and how they came to create their own image as artists and autuers and to craft their image and art. Again, it seems weird to think of either of them as being anything other than fully formed individuals, and that, in and of itself, seems supremely bizarre. We seldom think of the intervening events that came to create them as artists, yet here is Patti Smith lying bare exactly how she came to be what she became. The result is a fascinating and spellbinding narrative that you can scarcely set down. Ultimately Smith learns that Mapplethorpe is gay and both go on to find their own loves and their own directions in life and in art. In that degree "Just Kids" feels like only the beginning of a captivating story, the transition to another chapter, and I sincerely hope, a transition to another volume of memories, as I'm no doubt certain that Smith has a wealth of other memories than span well into the 80s, 90s and beyond. But for now I'm heartened to hear what she has to say as for now, the era before she became Patti Smith. And rather than being a trip down memory lane, "Just Kids" reminds us that everyone had to start somewhere, and success is never easy or certain. Smith's prose also wonderfully captures an era of New York City that has largely faded to the mists of time and memory. It is a time and place I was glad to revisit for a while. Immensely enjoyable and quite readable "Just Kids" is probably one of the best rock autobiographies I've ever read!

Just Kids Mentions in Our Blog

Just Kids in 10 x 10: The Best Books of the Decade
10 x 10: The Best Books of the Decade
Published by Ashly Moore Sheldon • December 06, 2019

As we countdown to 2020, we're publishing a series of ten of the best books of the past decade in ten different genres. 10 x 10! In order to finish by the end of 2019, we'll be packaging two genres together in this once-a-week series. This week's lists are Realistic Fiction and Memoir. Here are our picks for the ten best in each.

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