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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
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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Had no expectations for this book, but after reading it was left with both a happiness and sadness in my heart. Read morePublished 5 days ago by T. Francis
A fascinating story. Patti Smith is not just an iconic image, but a very human being.Published 8 days ago by Darlene R. Carra
My opinion of the book is that it is underwelming. I watched an interview of Patti Smith before deciding to buy it and I think she might have mentioned the all the best parts in... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Nicole
Really cool memoir about an artist that I have no real attachment to nor conviction for. I picked it up because of the glowing reviews and my love for New York stories. Read morePublished 12 days ago by @gocohen
Enjoyed this book very much. It was written in a somewhat flat, but loving and factual way, which left the ready to do the thinking on her/his own. A detailed and sweet memory. Read morePublished 13 days ago by kitty kat
Patti Smith's book left me speechless. I was so touched by her incredible relationship with Robert and how she was able to put it into such delicate words. Read morePublished 14 days ago by bgs
Two very innocent and disconnected young adults find themselves through their love for each other. Thanks to Patti, their is shared with all of us.Published 19 days ago by Lee Higdon