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Just Kids | [Patti Smith]

Just Kids

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late 60s and 70s and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.
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Audible Editor Reviews

In 1989, just before famously controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe died too young of AIDS complications at age 42, he made his very best friend promise to tell their story. Patti Smith took many years to do it, but the incredible result, Just Kids has proven well worth the wait. Winner of the National Book Award, Smith's delicate tribute to her relationship with Mapplethorpe and their love affair with New York City is read by Patti Smith herself.

No one else could narrate this, and no one else could have written this. After Smith ditched college to move to New York in 1967, a chance encounter in which Mapplethorpe saved her from an expectant date by pretending to be her angry boyfriend touched off one of the most historic artistic partnerships the city had ever seen. Embarking at first as lovers, they clung to their art and each other through poverty and misfortune in the late-60s, moving steadily closer to the center of cultural influence in the 70s. Mapplethorpe struggled with coming out of the closet and Smith struggled to find an artistic medium that suited her best. Together, they swam through everything that made New York great and terrible, each eventually emerging as a pioneering independent spirit that to this day knows no equal.

Smith's voice as both the writer and the narrator is simply unimpeachable. Reflective and soft-spoken, she humbly attempts to capture two decades of this inspirational partnership. Listeners can tell she is thinking through every image she has written here, pausing occasionally to let it sink in for herself or to let the dialogue get caught in her throat. By turns haunted and poetic, by turns silly and sarcastic, Smith trips along these enchanting bits of history in a way that is utterly endearing. It's not at all like inviting somebody famous to entertain you with gossip at dinner. Real respect must be paid. Listeners will be in awe of the fact that Patti Smith comes across as a totally normal person who stumbled into an extraordinary life. Even if you've already passed totally engrossed through the hard copy of this book, to hear it from Patti Smith's own mouth is simply an otherworldly experience. This audiobook is an essential companion to the text that will not only bear repeated listening, but will beg for it. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2010

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to 42nd Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous - the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late 60s and 70s and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

©2010 Patti Smith (P)2011 Patti Smith

What the Critics Say

“Smith’s beautifully crafted love letter to her friend Robert Mapplethorpe functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by passion for art and writing. Her elegant eulogy lays bare the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe’s life and work.” (Publishers Weekly, Top Ten Books of the Year)

“The most enchantingly evocative memoir of funky-but-chic New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s that any alumnus has yet committed to print.” (Janet Maslin's top 10 books of 2010, New York Times)

“Reading rocker Smith’s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it’s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” (People, Top 10 Books of 2010)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (1019 )
5 star
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4.3 (880 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Noel M. Parker South Coast, Oregon 04-06-13
    Noel M. Parker South Coast, Oregon 04-06-13 Member Since 2015

    Sierra Vista, Arizona (Relocated for Retirement) Reading, Audible, Travel, Fishing & Boredom

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listen before you buy...."
    What would have made Just Kids better?

    A different voice. Being from the West it was difficult and even irritating to listen to
    the dry, bland Brooklyn accent. This heroine doesn't get angry, happy, sad, thrilled, excited, furious .... the voice never changes. Irritating.


    What could Patti Smith have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I assume this is someone's life story. The story is too dull not to be someone's life story...
    The story is very typical of growing up in the 50's, surviving a full time stint as a hippie, even having a mate "come out". I know, I did it. And, basically that's Part 1.


    What didn’t you like about Patti Smith’s performance?

    The voice. There was no excitement, no surprise, no anger, no feeling. She finds out
    her life partner (!) is gay and sleeping with men and it's just another day. It would have been really nice to know she was alive and living this life story.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    The voice is most irritating, and it made me want to shake the heroine.
    Reaction? Dull, bored.


    Any additional comments?

    And, this is just Part 1. I will grind through Part 2 simply because I cannot not finish a book, although I know the ending...
    Patti Smith tells us the ending in the preface and first chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-18-13
    Stephen Silver Spring, MD, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Six Stars"
    Any additional comments?

    Five stars for the beautiful engaging book itself. An extra blue star for Patti Smith's wonderful reading. Cannot recommend this highly enough.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL, United States 03-15-13
    Amazon Customer Chicago, IL, United States 03-15-13 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    19
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    Story
    "Great insights for fans of Smith or Maplethorpe"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Maybe. Anyone with interest in the late 60s and early 70s in NYC will enjoy this book as well as any fans of Patti or Bob Maplethorpe. Otherwise, not for everyone.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    NA


    Did Patti Smith do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes. Most characters are seen through Patti's subjective experience and often not through the lens of broader culture, even for the mega-famous icons like Bob Dylan that seem to frequently come around.


    Was Just Kids worth the listening time?

    Yes. See above.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T. C. Timlin 03-06-13 Member Since 2011
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    2
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    "No better way to enjoy Just Kids"
    If you could sum up Just Kids in three words, what would they be?

    Rock and Roll


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Patti Smith - this is her story.


    What does Patti Smith bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    To hear her own words in that inimitable voice - awesome. I had already read the book, but listening to Patti read it was even better.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nancy United States 02-19-13
    nancy United States 02-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    2
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    "Little known facts about two artists"
    Would you listen to Just Kids again? Why?

    Yes. From now on, when I go to a museum to see the photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, I'll also think about the man and his life. His dedication to his art and true belief in self comes shining through this book.


    What other book might you compare Just Kids to and why?

    Perhaps the film - Pollack, and what different men these two were, but do intersect in their belief in art.


    What three words best describe Patti Smith’s performance?

    The word "drawlings" when she referred to their "drawings". I'd like to know why she used that words.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I think it was their struggle in the beginning to make ends meet. They never gave up.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Cornville, AZ United States 02-11-13
    Amazon Customer Cornville, AZ United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "love patty smiths narration"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Just Kids to be better than the print version?

    Just different.words are always nice to view and go back to to compare different scenes.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Patty


    What does Patti Smith bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Her voice


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Langhorne, PA, United States 12-11-12
    Amazon Customer Langhorne, PA, United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2014
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    2
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    "Had me hooked in about 5 minutes."
    What did you love best about Just Kids?

    Until listening to Patti Smith, I preferred the professional readers. I felt like I got to know her as a child, young adult and mature woman as I listened to her.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MA 11-27-12
    MA 11-27-12
    ratings
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    "Excellent"
    What made the experience of listening to Just Kids the most enjoyable?

    While Smith is very monotone in her delivery, she is nonetheless true to her emotions. Her delivery is beautiful though sometimes stark.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I purchased this because the relationship between Smith and Mapplethorpe had always intrigued me....I found out that it is a true love story.


    Have you listened to any of Patti Smith’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have heard Smith's "pop" music as well as some of her poetry readings/music....this is a very personal memoir.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No...Smith is a bit stark to take all of this in on one listen, but I couldn't wait to get back to it.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are a fan of either Mapplethorpe or Smith, this book will fascinate you....if you are not a fan of either, you 're in for a great love story....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane 11-05-12
    Jane 11-05-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice thought"

    While it was a nice thought that she wrote this and memorialized her friend, the book was a series of daily details of their lives. Smith's delivery was slow and i was only able to listen by turning the speed up so that she would sound like she was speaking at a normal pace. Suggestion: when performing an audio book reading lay off the weed.
    There were, as others have stated, sections of the book where Smith became emotional while speaking of her friend, theses were the redeeming sections of the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joanilla45 10-26-12
    joanilla45 10-26-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Does no one any favors"
    What disappointed you about Just Kids?

    Really? All these years later, she seems to have no sense of how shallow they all were. It's one thing to write about an earlier self with kindness; it's another to repeat the self-involved "brilliances" as if they really were brilliant. Someone seems to have been living in a sycophantic cocoon a little too long. And jesus, someone needed an editor to tell her that it's just as nice to write "I walked quietly" as "I strolled in an ambiance of stillness" or some such purply dreck. It's just more of the same Boomer self-indulgence and utter inability to see the larger world that has sunk most of these rock-n-roll memoirs.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    At first I wanted to kind of hug her and tell her, Really, even still, you're way more into him than he ever was into you. Like it was a little sad for her to be controlling this story, given his death, and trying to frame it in favorable terms for her. But eventually it was more pathetic than sad. And it just wouldn't end!


    Any additional comments?

    Famous people's books really suffer from their ability to refuse to bow to editors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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