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Just Kids Audiobook

Just Kids

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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Jean 07-05-16
    Jean 07-05-16
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    "disappointed"

    struggled to finish. monotone narrator. she name dropped over and over again but bored with her life.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alexandra blye 06-23-16
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    "The most beautiful story of friendship"

    This is the best audiobook I've ever listened to and one of the most beautiful stories of friendship I've had the pleasure of enjoying. Inspiring, sweet and breathtaking. Thank you Patti and Robert for sharing your story with the world.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal 06-13-16
    Michal 06-13-16
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    "life-changing"

    Hearing Patti read out loud her own words, the process of becoming an artist, was life-changing for me as an artist. A must-hear. Thank you, Patti!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan San Francisco, CA, United States 06-05-16
    Jan San Francisco, CA, United States 06-05-16 Member Since 2009
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    "I fell in love with Patti Smith!"

    I wasn't familiar with Patti Smith's music and I read The M Train before I read Just Kids; and I downloaded this just to have a copy of it to listen to later.

    She is a kindred spirit - especially after reading M Train - where I took notes while reading her ideas and about trips she took for reasons that made sense to no one else (story of my life). So many eclectic interests!

    Smith is a great writer - I don't know about fiction - but she should definitely keep writing about what she thinks about and generally, just commenting on the life around her.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Holland 05-25-16
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    "Poignant, Moving"

    A beautiful story written with great love and poetic language. Just Kids captures the youthful exploration of life and art in the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mappelthorpe.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryon 05-22-16
    Bryon 05-22-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Great insights into a period of history which created a lot of change"

    Incredible voice. Lovely story of living without judgement. Being born in 1966 - I enjoyed the new insights to all those things that were interesting to me as a teenager ... Like Woodstock, Bob Dylan, Punk Rock, Mixed Media Art ... And New York City.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Siri C Nelson 05-22-16
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    "just kids"

    great enveloping read. draws the reader in such to caring deeply for Robert and Patty. a wonderful friendship. we all should be so lucky.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    quick13 Minneapolis, MN 04-29-16
    quick13 Minneapolis, MN 04-29-16 Member Since 2015
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    "best audio book i've heard. Patti Smith is a force"

    the most amazing audio book i have ever heard. Patti Smith is amazing and her poetic words cannot be matched.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Rick 04-18-16
    Rick 04-18-16 Member Since 2017
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    "An incredible love story blooms around early punk"

    First of all what this book is not. It is not a history of punk, it will give only the briefest insights into the amazing Musical career of Patti Smith.

    What the book is:
    An incredible love story of two starving artists at the dawn of the New York Punk scene. The descriptions of the hotel,bars,bookstores and people remind me of the Beats. If you like Kerouac, Patti Smith's poetic remembrances seem to be channeling the beats.

    A special mention should made of Patti's reading style. The read has real emotions at times, it makes the material so much more accessible than if someone else did the read.

    It would tell you everything you want to know about punk, but it an indispensable book if you love punk.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Psychonaut82 Los Angeles, CA 04-14-16
    Psychonaut82 Los Angeles, CA 04-14-16
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    "Making Use of Suffering"
    What did you love best about Just Kids?

    I enjoyed the honesty of this book. It was an intimate view into a creative and formative bond between two artists - a difficult relationship to put into words and I can't imagine anyone other than a poet would attempt it. Their lives were the artwork more than any one of their creations. While many of the things they did and the places they went (literally and figuratively) were repulsive to me, the beauty of their bond was resilient.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The star of this book is the creative relationship between Patti and Robert. Individually, they were flawed people on their own paths to become an artist, but together they became a creative force that propelled each other to greatness.


    What about Patti Smith’s performance did you like?

    Patti's voice was important in my reception of this book. Another narrator might have been more emotive, but her voice added a layer of intimacy to the media and added to the allure of a personal memoire. For me, hearing Patti tell her story in her own voice was the selling feature of the book.


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

    I did not laugh or cry because of this book, but it made me think about how we can make use of suffering. Patti gave Robert new life through this book and used suffering to inform her creativity - which is a beautiful way to handle loss and grief.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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