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Just Kids [Kindle Edition]

Patti Smith
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (577 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

Due to copyright restrictions, this eBook may not contain all of the images available in the print edition.



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.



Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren't always famous, but they always thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late '60s and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices--or the world was ready to hear them. Lovers first and then friends as Mapplethorpe discovered he was gay, they divided their dimes between art supplies and Coney Island hot dogs. Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the first to fame, transformed, to her friend's delight, from a poet into a rock star. (Mapplethorpe soon became famous too--and notorious--before his death from AIDS in 1989.) Smith's memoir of their friendship, Just Kids, is tender and artful, open-eyed but surprisingly decorous, with the oracular style familiar from her anthems like "Because the Night," "Gloria," and "Dancing Barefoot" balanced by her powers of observation and memory for everyday details like the price of automat sandwiches and the shabby, welcoming fellow bohemians of the Chelsea Hotel, among whose ranks these baby Rimbauds found their way. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 1967, 21-year-old singer–song writer Smith, determined to make art her life and dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities in Philadelphia to live this life, left her family behind for a new life in Brooklyn. When she discovered that the friends with whom she was to have lived had moved, she soon found herself homeless, jobless, and hungry. Through a series of events, she met a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe who changed her life—and in her typically lyrical and poignant manner Smith describes the start of a romance and lifelong friendship with this man: It was the summer Coltrane died. Flower children raised their arms... and Jimi Hendrix set his guitar in flames in Monterey. It was the summer of Elvira Madigan, and the summer of love.... This beautifully crafted love letter to her friend (who died in 1989) functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by a passion for art and writing. Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York as she shares tales of the denizens of Max's Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner's, Brentano's, and Strand bookstores. In the lobby of the Chelsea, where she and Mapplethorpe lived for many years, she got to know William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Winter. Most affecting in this tender and tough memoir, however, is her deep love for Mapplethorpe and her abiding belief in his genius. Smith's elegant eulogy helps to explain the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe's life and work. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 998 KB
  • Print Length: 325 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060936223
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (April 20, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003F1WM2K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,061 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
344 of 372 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
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. Read more ›
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104 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memoir Served With Nostalgia & Humor January 25, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As great as one of Patti Smith's live performances. February 17, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book. Takes you on a journey back into time.
Published 1 day ago by sidetrakt
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
A trip down memory lane for us of a certain age now. Loved it.
Published 4 days ago by Wilma
5.0 out of 5 stars unbelievable
A true story of fate and eternal love. There are not enough stars to express the power of this book.
Published 7 days ago by DT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing story and extremely well written. I would highly recommend, especially if you live in New York.
Published 11 days ago by Gabriella Narvaez
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem. insightful, soulful, naive and sophisticated.
A rare gem. Insightful, soulful, naive and sophisticated. Patti Smith has lovingly allowed us to enter the interior of the artist.
Published 17 days ago by RD10004
5.0 out of 5 stars Personal, but universal
Great work from Patti Smith. This was my Book Club book for last month, and it was really impressive. Read more
Published 18 days ago by S. Gravelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Kids
As a biography follower, I did enjoy this book a lot. It amused me and I did finish it, but quite honestly read it such a while back that I don't think I can give it an honest... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Cm Dreyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Immersed myself in this one
A great story told poetically by Ms.Smith. Loved every page. Who could come up with a better name for this memoir? Read more
Published 23 days ago by anna paola
5.0 out of 5 stars A love story worthy of an opera
A biography of Patti Smith and her supporter, best friend and inspiration, Robert Mapplethorpe. Friends make our life worthwhile, and Robert met Patti through a simple act of... Read more
Published 26 days ago by natriley
5.0 out of 5 stars a gift from two kids to all kids
This book should be required reading for anyone to whom it has not occurred that the smallest details of everyday life and love are the grist of the true artist's mill.
Published 1 month ago by James H. Clemmer
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What is it with Patti Smith. It's like she's real.
I just finished Patti Smith's new book, "Just Kids". For me it was particularly meaningful. First of all I'm an artist and always thought I wanted to do the things that Patti did (the starving artist lifestlye in NYC). Wow! After reading this book, I have no regrets! I'll take my... Read More
Dec 31, 2010 by Char I R |  See all 11 posts
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