work as an artist and art restorer. read at least 48 books a year, because I can listen while I work.
Ordinarily, I do not like to comment or review a book unless I found it to be exceptional or something I truly enjoyed. This book had a riveting story, and I like these people as artists, but had to get over Patti Smith's reading of it. She has a way of speaking that is flat and monotonous. That being said, I thought this was worthwhile
Patti Smith pours out the story of her life with humility, peace and quiet resolve. She starts with the shame and humiliation of getting pregnant in her teens and giving the baby up for adoption in the early 60s. With hardly a dime to her name she moves to New York City where she meets and enters into a loving relationship with the famous photographer, Robert Maplethorpe. Together they supported one another in all their artful endeavors even after he left her for the love of a man. Eventually they moved to the Chelsea Hotel where they associated with well-known poets and authors and artists and musicians of the late 60s and early 70s. Patti's career took off, she married and had two children, and Robert continued his love of photography. Patti took care of him when he contracted AIDS and eventually died. Their love for one another was so extraordinary, so caring for one another, so mutually supportive, so non-judgmental, so void of jealousy and mistrust. I am in awe of Patti's talents as a singer and as a poet and artist, but most of all I admire her humility and honesty. I've always been fascinated with Maplethorpe's work and have a book of some of his photography, mostly of women, and Patti rounds out the line-up of well-known women in the last four photos. She was and is more beautiful than she knows. A few days ago I read where she visited the Occupy Wall Street camp to donate some of her books. While walking among the protesters she came upon an old woman to whom she gave her socks and boots.
Anybody but her
I found this account narcissistic, self-serving and solipsistic. I too lived through this era, and while I enjoyed the references to the events and people of the 60's and 70's I couldn't wait for this book to end. Her performance was great for insomniacs who want to be lulled to sleep, but it made for an incredibly long listen. I can't imagine how this was awarded the National Book Award. Maybe the committee was impressed by all her references to the great artists and her never ending name dropping of the great performers of this era.
I really wanted to like this book and enjoyed it for awhile, but by the end I was like, OK Robert, die, so that we can turn this thing off.
Only if the friend has a particular interest in the subject matter. I respect the open and honest account, but it often came across to me as a prolonged name-dropping session.
I can totally understand why she reads this work herself -- it's highly personal and it would probably feel wrong to have someone else read it... but she should have. Her reading is, as others have mentioned, oddly flat and dry, and I found her pronunciation of some words distracting at best and annoying at worst. (A good example is "drawing" which is used a lot, and her pronunciation of the word "birthday" is... very strange.)
This book is not without value, but it seems over-rated to me. I choose it because of the glowing reviews, but found it to be a fairly ordinary account.
This book is part personal memoir, part first-person-omniscient narrative. I loved everything about this piece, including Smith' New Jersey styled pronunciations. I hope she writes more.
I am glad that she read it. At first when I heard it I thought she was a little flat. But now I understand that no one else could have read this book the way she has. That she is part of the story itself and to hear her is an ingredient that was necessary. It is not a thriller it is a human experience.
There was a quote that moved me. ..."I learned from him that often contradiction are the clearest way to truth."
This book will make you want to do art. It will make you want ot support those that make art and be part of a creative community.
Former English and drama major, bookaholic.
I just finished reading Just Kids and I have been touched. The story is fluid and full and the way that Patti Smith looks back on her life, her values changing over time, her art but mostly the chronicle of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe is inspiring. What comes across is a wonderful poignant love story of a deep, deep friendship. You also get a completely different view of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe than what the press would have us believe. This is the part that touched and surprised me. I still gravitate almost instantly to fiction but this was a wonderful ride.
YES. I liked the story and would most likely pick up something that I missed the first time.
When Robert saved Patti from a possible rape.
Robert's death but I was really impressed that Patti didn't exploit it. She could have turned the end into a sobfest, instead she treated his dying with respect.
I am too young (barely) to have lived their lives but it would have been interesting!
Even if Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe are peripheral or unknown to you, this history of the life and times of these two artists will overpower you with its richness, gentleness and authenticity. Smith is a true poet-storyeller and her resonant voice, her gift of language, her honesty, even her accent create a powerful remembrance. This is a perfect book to read by ear. It is one of the best I have ever heard.
avoiding road rage one book at a time...
Before I picked up this book, here is what I knew about Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe: she was an poet/one-hit wonder and he was a subversive photographer whose exhibition was banned from our local art museum. I wasn't until I heard Patti's interview with Howard Stern, did I learn the two had a connection. Based on that interview, my first real introduction to Patti, I thought her book would be interesting, but I did not know what to expect.
Here is what I got: a beautiful, (at times) haunting, poignant, dripping with ornate detail love story that grew from a chance meeting into a life-long connection. Most people don't get an opportunity to have the kind of relationship that Patti & Robert had. With this book, I gained a front-row seat to the play of their lives, which was packed with chance encounters and quickly formed friendships with some of the most ground-breaking writers, poets, artists & musicians... and the real story; the story of their devotion to one another, which will touch me for the rest of my life.
It took me a few chapters to get used to Patti's style. I am a non-fiction reader who like the facts without pomp & circumstance. Her detailed, poetic styling was a bit overwhelming, but I grew to love it because through her words, I could see. In these 300 pages I witnessed luck, bravery, love, careless abandon, determination, sadness, triumph and pain.