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Just Kids by Patti Smith
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Just Kids (edition 2010)

by Patti Smith

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Showing 1-5 of 154 (next | show all)
I'm really not the target audience for this book. Before cracking it open, I could only name one Patti Smith song (yes that one), most of what I knew about the Factory came from Johnny Alucard, and I'm not sure I actually knew anything about Robert Mapplethorpe. In fact, it's the type of book that would normally actively put me off; you get exposed to enough spiritual solipsism if you move to London in your 20s.

But this was free and I'm always keen to challenge my snobberies... and I was impressed. OK, I can't pretend it meant as much to me as it clearly has to so many others, but I get why they get it. Smith's deep love for Mapplethorpe is clear and affecting, and despite detailing what are sometimes quite horrible experiences there's a detachedness to her prose that I couldn't help but admire; she has long since come to terms with the events she is describing, and neither needs nor wants anything from the reader.

Her prose are wonderfully evocative. I think part of what usually puts me off this sort of book is an overexposure to the sort of pseudo-intellectualism that assumes being left-wing, or having no money, or moving to New York makes you interesting. But in her writing Smith captures what it is in those mundanities that speaks of a deeper truth within her subject and her reader; I felt guilty on Mapplethorpe's behalf for the money he wasted on magazines not because I'm motherly but because that's a guilt tied up in concerns over privilege, laziness and ethics.

Alright so there are still some "Oh for God's sake" moments (Smith likens Mapplethorpe to Jean Genet, calling them both "aesthetic thieves", after he nicks a poster from Brentano's – turns out there were quite a few aesthetic thieves at my old student uni art fairs) but they are far fewer than I feared. This book has an audience and I am not a part of it, so the fact I found as much in it to admire and recognise as I did is, I'd say, pretty high praise. If you actually are interested in Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe, you'll probably hug this book till your dying day. ( )
  m_k_m | Mar 30, 2017 |
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. ( )
  ecataldi | Feb 11, 2017 |
Her prose is really outstanding! This is well worth the read. I'm definitely going to have to check out M Train now! ( )
  beckyrenner | Dec 29, 2016 |
I loved this. Tender, eloquent, and sweet. She really honors the person she was. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
The bad: it is equal parts name-dropping and arty affectation. The good: Smith's deep connection with Mapplethorpe shines through, and the final section (dealing with Mapplethorpe's death) is genuinely moving. Still have no idea why this made the shortlist for the National Book Awards, though. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 154 (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, Pattiprimary 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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Haiku summary
Mapplethorpe and she
Meet in their pre-famous days
And forge lasting bonds
(pickupsticks)
Starts broke in New York
Becomes "Mother of Punk". She's
Now music legend
(pickupsticks)

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(see all 2 descriptions)

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)

(summary from another edition)

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