A prelude to fame, Just Kids recounts the friendship of two young artists--Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – whose passion fueled their lifelong pursuit of art.
In 1967, a chance meeting between two young people led to a romance and a lifelong friendship that would carry each to international success never dreamed of. The backdrop is Brooklyn, Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, Scribner’s Bookstore, Coney Island, Warhol’s Factory and the whole city resplendent. Among their friends, literary lights, musicians and artists such as Harry Smith, Bobby Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, Sandy Daley, Sam Shepherd, William Burroughs, etc. It was a heightened time politically and culturally; the art and music worlds exploding and colliding. In the midst of all this two kids made a pact to always care for one another. Scrappy, romantic, committed to making art, they prodded and provided each other with faith and confidence during the hungry years--the days of cous-cous and lettuce soup.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. Beautifully written, this is a profound portrait of two young artists, often hungry, sated only by art and experience. And an unforgettable portrait of New York, her rich and poor, hustlers and hellions, those who made it and those whose memory lingers near.
©2010 Patti Smith (P)2011 Patti Smith
This audio book had me spellbound. I was transported - lost in the world of Patti and Robert, New York City, 1960's and was oblivious to everyone and everything around me. I hung off every word, and 'couldn't put it down'. If you admire the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and/or Patti Smith you will love this book like I did. But I think even if you have never heard of either of them, you will love it. It stands alone as a love story, a life story, beautifully crafted. That Patti Smith herself has narrated the book makes the audio book even better than reading it visually would be. Her voice adds to the magic. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
I've been a fan of Patti Smith's music for years, but initially hesitated to listen to this book because I thought it might be mainly about the relationship between two people, one of whom died tragically young, and therefore a bit depressing. I'm so glad I did listen to it, because it's very much a portrait of a time and place (the late 1960s and the 1970s in New York). It is also about the relationship between Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe, which is handled in a delicate and not at all maudlin way. I gained a lot of insight into all of the participants and their artistic milieu, making me curious to know more about some aspects of the latter, even though I'd already read a fair bit about the topic. The book is read very well by Patti Smith in her distinctive way, which somehow manages to combine directness and deceptive simplicity with emotional complexity and surprising ideas, just like her music. This is a well-crafted and sensitive book that impresses me with Patti Smith's writing.
Having Patti Smith narrate it
It re-connected me to my path as an Artist. It made me long for creativity and self-expression in a way that is poetic and meaningful. One of the most inspiring stories I've read/listened to for living a unique and self-directed life.
Patti is an amazing storyteller with a unique voice, as unique as her life story and the characters that are a part of it. She is a wise and intuitive woman and her tale is deep and poetic.
Philosophy, nature, arts.
After listening to the audio version read by Patti Smith herself, it's easy to understand why she is such a remarkable poet. The book is based mostly on Smith's own diary entries, which she has reinterpreted as a narrative.
Smith indeed gravitated to the right place at a right time when entering the artistic hub of early 70's Manhattan art scene and especially Chelsea Hotel.
You might call her lucky to have stumbled upon all the art and music greats mentioned also in this book. Still, the road was rocky indeed and the way she instinctively finds her place during this book is a lesson in itself and a great coming-of-age story.
Smith tells about even the most mundane incidents with an admirable knack at storytelling. Her poetic way of suffering the hardships with dignity and savouring the beauty in the small joys of life makes for a great listen.
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