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Just Kids

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4 out of 5 stars

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Product Description

JUST KIDS starts out as a love story and ends up on Elegy Row. Serving as a Baudelarian salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions, it makes for a true fable, a portrait of two young artists, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, ascending the halcyon daze to fame. Smith's penchant for immortalizing herself this side of the graveyard dog, lets all the struggle and morphing genius connect for a rhythmic ride through that singular time and space. Smith plants herself at the epicenter of a time when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, Smith/Mapplethorpe would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years. And starring the Hotel Chelsea. With b&w photos. A New York Times Bestseller.

Editorial Reviews

Musician, poet and visual artist Smith (Trois, 2008, etc.) chronicles her intense life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe during the 1960s and '70s, when both artists came of age in downtown New York.Both born in 1946, Smith and Mapplethorpe would become widely celebrated—she for merging poetry with rock 'n' roll in her punk-rock performances, he as the photographer who brought pornography into the realm of art. Upon meeting in the summer of 1967, they were hungry, lonely and gifted youths struggling to find their way and their art. Smith, a gangly loser and college dropout, had attended Bible school in New Jersey where she took solace in the poetry of Rimbaud. Mapplethorpe, a former altar boy turned LSD user, had grown up in middle-class Long Island. Writing with wonderful immediacy, Smith tells the affecting story of their entwined young lives as lovers, friends and muses to one another. Eating day-old bread and stew in dumpy East Village apartments, they forged fierce bonds as soul mates who were at their happiest when working together. To make money Smith clerked in bookstores, and Mapplethorpe hustled on 42nd Street. The author colorfully evokes their days at the shabbily elegant Hotel Chelsea, late nights at Max's Kansas City and their growth and early celebrity as artists, with Smith winning initial serious attention at a St. Mark's Poetry Project reading and Mapplethorpe attracting lovers and patrons who catapulted him into the arms of high society. The book abounds with stories about friends, including Allen Ginsberg, Janis Joplin, William Burroughs, Sam Shepard, Gregory Corso and other luminaries, and it reveals Smith's affection for the city—the ";;gritty innocence";; of the couple's beloved Coney Island, the ";;open atmosphere";; and ";;simple freedom";; of Washington Square. Despite separations, the duo remained friends until Mapplethorpe's death in 1989. ";;Nobody sees as we do, Patti,";; he once told her.Riveting and exquisitely crafted.Nationwide author appearances Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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  • 4 out of 5

    Memoir of a Bygone Era

    Written by , Posted on at 11:32:21 AM

    While reading Patti Smith's memoir I kept noticing something in the language that made me wonder what she might be like had she not become such a celebrated poet/singer/songwriter. At times her prose paints a descriptive picture of Manhattan as it suffers at the hands of some rather dangerous folks running around the city. Other times it feels like she's too into the spiritual side of her art. Then again I suppose that's what makes it so unique. Smith's memoir covers some early memories of her life in Chicago and New Jersey before leaving for NYC. Pale, skinny, and bookish, with a knack for reading old poetry and drawing, she moves to NYC without a place to live in the late 1960's, hoping for nothing more than to crash with some friends at Pratt University (whom she eventually finds moved away). She eventually meets the man who would change her life completely, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Much of the book is spent narrating the duo's travels around the city, first renting a place in Brooklyn, then going to Manhattan once their place is robbed. Though they're mostly broke, any pennies scrapped together goes toward their art, buying cheap crafts and salvaging whatever they happen to find. They clearly inspire each other and have a great deal of admiration for whatever they're attempting to express through their crafts. Along the way they meet the colorful cast of what are now known as NYC's most celebrated writers/artists, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Sam Wagstaff, Warhol, Dylan, etc. It's weird to think that just forty years ago, a front room loft space on the top floor of a building on 23rd st. in Manhattan could be had for nothing more than $100 and a promise to clean the place within a month. I'll admit that I was more interested in the descriptions of the city and its carefree attitude and I like Smith's willingness to be so open at a time when the city was still in a frenzied state. Just Kids is a great read, whether you appreciate photography, early rock/roll, or city life in NYC.

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