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Just Kids by Patti Smith

Just Kids

by Patti Smith (Author)

Other authors: Robert Mapplethorpe (Photographer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (126)  French (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (134)
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
It can be more eloquent to let five stars stand alone (especially when you don't often use it. And I'd like to be able to do that and to write this handful of personal notes, because Just Kids is an awful lot more than this. People, a time, a scene, creative process, great writing. (Perhaps it could use more humour but it's also good enough and itself enough that that doesn't matter.)

But in reading Patti Smith's account of her young self, it's like I found someone the same gender as I am - so many of the same ways of feeling male and female and in between at different times and in different situations, but if bodily experience makes her particularly aware of femaleness for a while, she mans up (as it were) and deals with it without finding it as alienating as one might suppose. I connect with her ways of seeing and feeling as I just don't with recent blogs etc on queerness.
(Thing I feel the need to say in case I make a handful of friends uncomfortable. Difference re. her relationship with Mapplethorpe: I seem to have some kind of very sharp gaydar as I've never - not since a vague preteen liking for Matthew Parris on breakfast TV - fancied a man who was gay or significantly so; just 100% straight men whom yobs, and some gay men, assume are gay; they say they felt it would have suited them to be gay, and they sometimes slightly regret not being so. Whilst I am a terrible fag hag for certain subcultures of C20th gay male taste.)
The other thing is about how much luck she has and the way she grabs it and it keeps on giving. I had a very powerful epiphany that this (albeit with different occupations) is how my life would have been if I'd been healthy. Ever since I left home I've had a lot of pretty amazing ladders appear in front of me. But unlike her, also not a few snakes, 99% of those related to the one health problem (so maybe one big, twisty snake). ( )
  antonomasia | Mar 8, 2015 |
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. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
A show-biz bio of NYC 70s counterculture, and one of the saddest things I've ever read, but still fascinating. If there ever was any question that artists are creations of their time and place, this should end that debate. I say that as someone whose young world was broken open by Patti Smith. Great artists end a tradition or start one, Walter Benjamin said; she did both. But the social and psychic costs of living in our time have been enormous, and they've simply continued to get higher. And a lot of people (not just artists) have paid too high a price, even if some great cultural work has been squeezed out of the mess. Every time some great vision is realized or some great individual achievement made, we cheer, while somehow accepting that life for most is going to be miserable. What perhaps redeems Patti from the monstrous ego-show that art of all kinds is in our society, is that she really believes in the human soul, and that the mission of the artist is to touch it. ( )
1 vote CSRodgers | Jan 16, 2015 |
Patti Smith is a name I recall from the early 80s. I always thought of her as a fringe rocker. I had only ever heard her song "Because the Night". I also remember all the hoopla about Robert Mapplethorpe's graphic sexual photographs of males--though I never actually saw any of those photos. So it was a huge surprise to me that these two had been a couple who supported and nurtured each others' art (Patti was also an artist and poet). And what a bohemian life they led--they were quite literally starving artists, and they had some sort of relationship with every iconic artist of that era, whether it be a casual acquaintance or an intimate friendship with the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Alan Ginsburg, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard and the list goes on and on. It is a fascinating look into an era from someone who not just lived it, but survived.

Patti writes in an engaging and very heartfelt way, though it felt at times hard to believe that she was as naive or as unegotistical as she portrays herself in the book. The book makes it seem that nothing was ever planned or organized or thought out in her life, things just turned out the way they did. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to read and in the end a beautiful, fairy-tale love story about two people who deeply loved each other. ( )
  Marse | Jan 7, 2015 |
This year I decided to expand my reading habits to include types of literature that I may otherwise ignore. Because of this, I have been making efforts to read biographies and memoirs, along with essays, poetry, and other non-fiction works. This book has been a part of this effort.

Before I read this, I knew next to nothing about Patti Smith. I’ve heard the name and knew vaguely that she was involved in music and poetry, but I wouldn’t have been able to identify any of her songs. I didn’t know who Robert Mapplethorpe was either. But after reading this great book, I have great respect and understanding for both of them. They experienced and suffered a lot, but through the course of their friendship they ended up sharing a beautiful life. Their relationship is so loving and sweet.

If you are looking for a good memoir, then I recommend this book highly. There is something fascinating about reading things you know that you will never experience. And their experiences are worth knowing about. ( )
  sighedtosleep | Sep 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
The reader knows who Smith and Mapplethorpe will become, so it is intriguing to read about his continued attempts to encourage her to become a musician, while she urges him to delve into photography.
“Just Kids” is the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late ’60s and early ’70s that any alumnus has committed to print. The tone is at once flinty and hilarious, which figures: she’s always been both tough and funny, two real saving graces in an artist this prone to excess. What’s sure to make her account a cornucopia for cultural historians, however, is that the atmosphere, personalities and mores of the time are so astutely observed.
It’s possible to come away from “Just Kids” with an intact image of the title’s childlike kindred spirits who listened to Tim Hardin’s delicate love songs, wondered if they could afford the extra 10 cents for chocolate milk and treasured each geode, tambourine or silver skull they shared, never wanting what they couldn’t have or unduly caring what the future might bring. If it sometimes sounds like a fairy tale, it also conveys a heartbreakingly clear idea of why Ms. Smith is entitled to tell one.

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Smith, PattiAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mapplethorpe, RobertPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Speaker, Mary AustinDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Much has been said about Robert, and more will be added. Young men will adopt his gait. Young girls will wear white dresses and mourn his curls. He will be condemned and adored. His excesses damned or romanticized. In the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artist. It will not fall away. Man cannot judge it. For art sings of God, and ultimately belongs to him.
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I was asleep when he died.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City : the denizens of Max's Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner's, Brentano's and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe--the man who changed her life with his love, friendship, and genius.… (more)

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