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107 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memoir Served With Nostalgia & Humor, January 25, 2010
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This review is from: Just Kids (Hardcover)
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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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 25, 2010 4:18:59 PM PST
Jym Cherry says:
I have another version of this review that mentions Jim Morrison's influence on Patti Smith at

Posted on Jan 25, 2010 7:47:52 PM PST
Well done review! You capture the book's spirit very well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2010 9:06:47 PM PST
Jym Cherry says:
Thank you Steven.

Posted on Jan 21, 2011 4:44:59 AM PST
Jym--what a wonderful review. I like how you compared your prose to poetry.

I was frustrated that the link (Jim Morrison) doesn't work! I guess they don't keep their stories on file?


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2011 5:16:01 PM PST
Jym Cherry says:
Hello Switterbug!
Sorry you couldn't find The Doors Examiner, it's an old address and I forgot to update it. It's now at

Thank you!

Posted on Sep 2, 2011 5:54:36 PM PDT
WLut says:
I have to wonder about the "humor" part of your review. I'm about 65 pages into the book and I keep waiting for it to start and I haven't read anything humorous in the slightest. I find myself disliking Patti Smith and I didn't want to. When she first gets to NYC her friends won't give her a place to sleep - this at a time when everyone shared everything. Seems they must not have liked her. She sees herself as an artist but there's little art she is making. More like she wants to live the life of an artist than actually do the work or even learn how first. Why didn't she go to art school or take some courses? She keeps losing jobs. Why? There's virtually nothing about her family, her childhood who I guess she is protecting, but that detracts from the memoir as I don't feel I'm getting to know her. There's too much telling and not enough showing. Very poetic prose, I'll give you, but so far not much of a story and the only two real characters, I'm not finding them very interesting. Nothing seems to happen in real time, i.e. there are few scenes, almost no dialog. Just narration , narration, narration. Hope it improves.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2011 7:42:49 PM PST
Jym Cherry says:
Hi Will,
I hope the book got better for you. You do have a point that there's a lot of wanting to be an artist and not a lot of creating, but that's the first step to becoming an artist, the desire.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2014 10:47:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2014 10:47:57 AM PST
Robert Cain says:
@WLut: Wow! I'm glad I'm not the only one with this reaction.
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