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Just Kids Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 19, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The pen was guided by love for an artist by an artist, both gifted.Published 5 days ago by Michelle Kato
A moving memoir of first love . The preternatural relationship of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Read morePublished 7 days ago by kristi pottichen
Authentic on the page as it gets. Inimitable voice. The "portrait of the artist" and the immortal ways the godds take care of artist youth. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Amazon Customer
This was on my TBR list for years and I decided to delve into its pages after seeing a documentary on Mapplethorpe on Netflix. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Silvia Macor
I loved this amazing look at an NYC long gone and of an enduring friendship between two talented, fearless, innovative artists.Published 12 days ago by Kevin Hanson
There was a bandaid (not used) in the middle of the pages which is kind of hilarious and also this sticky matter all on the cover and the back. Like sticker residue or something? Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer