Just Kids by Patti Smith

84%

56 Critic Reviews

The book ends with their last days and conversations, as Mapplethorpe died of AIDs in 1989. It’s clear that he will always be important for Smith. She took a vow to protect him when they were just kids and she is still taking care of him, eloquently sharing his legacy through her evocative memories and stories.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

Due to copyright restrictions, this eBook may not contain all of the images available in the print edition.



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 Forty-second 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 sixties and seventies 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.

 

About Patti Smith

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Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock. Her seminal album Horses, bearing Robert Mapplethorpe’s renowned photograph, has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. Her books include Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor awarded to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Smith married the late Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse. Smith resides in New York City.
 
Published April 2, 2010 by HarperCollins e-books. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for Just Kids
All: 56 | Positive: 52 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on Jun 24 2010

Despite separations, the duo remained friends until Mapplethorpe’s death in 1989...Riveting and exquisitely crafted.

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NY Times

Good
on Jan 29 2010

This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it’s preparation. Few artists ever proved it like these two.

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NY Times

Excellent
on Jan 17 2010

This Patti Smith...is a newly mesmerizing figure...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Elizabeth Day on Feb 13 2010

...Just Kids is a compassionate portrait of an unconventional marriage; an intimacy forged through a shared artistic vision. In both the tenderness of her expression and the beauty of her prose, there is no doubt that Patti Smith has given us a fitting memorial to her lost love and to the art they created together.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Edmund White on Feb 12 2010

Like that art opening, this book brings together all the elements that made New York so exciting in the 1970s – the danger and poverty, the artistic seriousness and optimism, the sense that one was still connected to a whole history of great artists in the past.

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Guardian

Excellent
on Feb 14 2010

In both the tenderness of her expression and the beauty of her prose, there is no doubt that Patti Smith has given us a fitting memorial to her lost love and to the art they created together.

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Guardian

Excellent
on Feb 13 2010

...this book brings together all the elements that made New York so exciting in the 1970s...

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by xoxoxoe on Feb 15 2011

The book ends with their last days and conversations, as Mapplethorpe died of AIDs in 1989. It’s clear that he will always be important for Smith. She took a vow to protect him when they were just kids and she is still taking care of him, eloquently sharing his legacy through her evocative memories and stories.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by xoxoxoe on Feb 15 2011

The book ends with their last days and conversations, as Mapplethorpe died of AIDs in 1989. It’s clear that he will always be important for Smith. She took a vow to protect him when they were just kids and she is still taking care of him, eloquently sharing his legacy through her evocative memories and stories.

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Blog Critics

Good
on Jun 16 2010

As memoirs go, the most impressive thing about Just Kids is its honesty. Smith's description of her life with Maplethorpe has the ring of truth.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Richard Marcus on Apr 18 2010

Smith writes with a clarity and straightforwardness that is deceptive at first in its simplicity. When reading prose it's easy to forget that the person writing is a poet, and has a poet's gift for words, so what on the surface might appear to be a simple recounting of an occurrence ends up being far more.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
on Apr 18 2010

...no matter who you are or what you do, it will remind you that life is worth celebrating and to make the most of what you have while you're here.

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Christian Williams on Feb 18 2010

...This meandering memoir is rife with juicy snapshots of ’70s New York cool at its grittiest and most seductive. But while Smith succeeds in communicating the thrill of social climbing at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB, she doesn’t provide much evidence of Mapplethorpe’s supposed appeal.

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AV Club

Good
on Feb 18 2010

This meandering memoir is rife with juicy snapshots of ’70s New York cool at its grittiest and most seductive.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
on Jan 06 2010

...both a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
on Jan 26 2010

More than a 1970s bohemian rhapsody, "Just Kids" is one of the best books ever written on becoming an artist...

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Jan 14 2011

... this is a modern classic that generations of readers will cherish as a friend...their visions lights up every tender, glowing page.

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The Telegraph

Good
Reviewed by Michael Horovitz on Feb 21 2010

Just Kids is a refreshingly clear-eyed chronicle of a phase of transatlantic counterculture that has been much over-mythologised by other of its promoters. The book is also a transformative extended elegy for the ups and downs of interpersonal innocence and experience by one of our time’s least showbiz-corrupted superstars.

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Arditti on Feb 09 2010

Smith was reunited with Mapplethorpe at the end of his life, Fritscher describing her as “the Madonna, the Pietà… his suffering mirrored in her sorrowful mature face”. She pours that sorrow and that maturity into this heartfelt, illuminating book.

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Huffington Post

Excellent
on Mar 14 2011

...thank you, Patti, for being such an incredible poet, rock star, writer, artist, and story teller.

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Dallas News

Good
on Jan 24 2010

Despite her music's angry clamor, despite his sometimes revolting images, Smith and Mapplethorpe retain, in her telling, a primal, childlike innocence.

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Oregon Live

Good
Reviewed by Jeff Baker on Jan 23 2010

Patti Smith's memoir, "Just Kids," is full of inspiring exchanges about art between her and Robert Mapplethorpe...

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Above average
Reviewed by JAMES PARKER on Jan 19 2010

Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, like Jim Carroll and Andy Warhol, were tribally Catholic...And after reading Just Kids, Smith’s memoir of the life she and Mapplethorpe shared in pursuit of their respective vocations, you’ll be aware that this is something more than a coincidence.

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The Uncustomary Book Review

Good
Reviewed by VIVECA MELLEGARD on Aug 05 2013

This book makes me cry a lot. I sit on the bus reading it and have to turn my face to the sun so that I can pretend my moist eyes are from the sneezing that the bright light invites. I’m moved to the core by Patti’s devotion for Robert and Robert’s for Patti.

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Seattle PI

Good
Reviewed by Jack Goodstein on Apr 26 2011

As memoirs go, the most impressive thing about is its honesty. Smith's description of her life with Maplethorpe has the ring of truth. She doesn't seem to have tidied things up. Drugs, sex, poverty—they're all there.

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Seattle PI

Excellent
on Apr 26 2011

The book ends with their last days and conversations, as Mapplethorpe died of AIDs in 1989...she is still taking care of him, eloquently sharing his legacy through her evocative memories and stories.

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MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Doug Bruns on Jan 03 2011

Just Kids has a tone of the elegiac about it. It stops short of heightened fame, of notoriety, of sadness. Instead it sings of a time of innocence when the world was being created anew and artists lead in the struggle.

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Paste

Good
Reviewed by Helen Mataov on Feb 01 2010

Smith’s recollections rewire traditional ideas of love and her poetically pure storytelling does more than allow her to fulfill her promise; it cements ‘Smith and Mapplethorpe’ as one of the art world’s most relevant pairs.

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Book Forum

Good
Reviewed by Greg Milner on Jan 18 2010

Just Kids makes a convincing case that faith in another's expressive capability can form a bond as strong as any physical or emotional commitment.

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Open Salon

Below average
on Apr 08 2014

...the book reminds us how transformative the right friends can be in our lives...Maybe it’s because Patti Smith is so very good at being a friend that the book, inevitably, gets a little bogged down in the Who’s Who of the Chelsea Hotel.

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Open Salon

Excellent
on Feb 22 2012

"Just Kids" allowed me to experience a time I wasn't a part of. As I read the words I actually felt as if Patti was sitting beside me telling me her story.

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Lambda Literary

Good
Reviewed by Reginald Harris on Apr 21 2010

...Just Kids is a remarkable and evocative portrait of a complex friendship, and the story of the early development of two provocative artists.

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For Books' Sake

Good
Reviewed by Victoria Conway on Jun 06 2014

By the end I found myself moved to tears and falling in love with Smith as hard as I did when I found a dusty old vinyl copy of her album, Easter, in a charity shop at 15 years old.

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ABC Perth

Good
on Jun 06 2014

Liberally sprinkled with the 'nexus of counter culture cool' from Janis Joplin,Sam Shepard,Allen Ginsberg,William Burroughs,Andy Warhol,Jimi Hendrix, Grace Slick et al: 'Just for Kids' is more an ode to Robert Mapplethorpe and the heydays of New York City. A brilliant,compassionate and honest memoir.

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Broad Street Review

Excellent
on Jan 08 2013

Smith has been called “the godmother of punk,” but, as Just Kids demonstrates, she’s far beyond that neat and limiting label. She’s the artist she set out to be.

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Broad Street Review

Good
Reviewed by Bob Ingram on Apr 19 2011

Smith has been called "the godmother of punk," but, as Just Kids demonstrates, she's far beyond that neat and limiting label. She's the artist she set out to be.

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Birmingham Public Library

Good
Reviewed by David Blake on Mar 05 2014

Reading Just Kids, we hang out with Patti and Robert at Max’s Kansas City, perform before Andy Warhol at the early CBGB and live at the Chelsea Hotel.

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Literary Kicks

Good
Reviewed by Levi Asher on Feb 08 2010

By the time you reach the last page of Just Kids you feel like you were just hanging out with with Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe yourself. One could do worse for company, or inspiration.

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Alibi

Good
Reviewed by JILL KOENIGSDORF on Jun 06 2014

Patti Smith’s memoir is steeped in atmosphere, and it captures a time and place so vividly that any reader—whether they have salient memories of those years or not—will be carried away.

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Murphreesboro Pulse

Excellent
on Jun 29 2011

Smith and Mapplethorpe’s relationship is both sweet and downright mystifying; it’s a love you won’t see depicted anywhere else.

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Crikey

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthia Dempsey on Mar 22 2010

Just Kids is a beautiful song in the pages of a beautiful book, a tale pared back to the thread that ties two souls together and a talisman for anyone drawn to create, or drawn to those who are.

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Ken Greenleaf

Above average
Reviewed by CARRIE BATTAN on Feb 08 2010

A bit breathless? Perhaps, but Smith's humble narrative lacks the pretense that would make us wary of her wide-eyed tendency toward superstitious and destiny-propelled storytelling.

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Grift Magazine

Good
Reviewed by John Kenyon on Feb 08 2014

In the end, the book made me want to listen to all of Smith’s music, read all of her poems, look at all of her sketches and watch ever frame of film taken of her. The same goes for others in the book.

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FLAVORWIRE

Below average
on Jan 20 2010

The book feels like it has restrained itself into elegy form, unable to speak ill of the dead, a restriction that mars the reader’s full belief.

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Yahoo! Voices

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Stapperfenne on Jun 07 2012

She illuminates just how hard things could be, even if at the end of the day 1960s East Village was a better scene for the starving artist than it is today.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Joanna Romer on Feb 25 2011

Just Kids is a book so honest, so readable and so tender hearted that we fall in love again with musical artist Patti Smith, and with the incredible time period in which rock music mirrored a dream of a mystical reality...

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Fyrefly's Book Blog

Below average
on Mar 20 2014

I didn’t get past them being young and poor and in love before I gave it up...although the subject wasn’t interesting to me (and I wasn’t crazy about the writing style, either), fans of Smith’s or people interested in the time period will probably have better luck with it.

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She Knows

Excellent
Reviewed by Colleen M. Quill on Dec 28 2010

Reading a female's perspective on the 70's artistic scene is a powerful journey that made me rediscover the relationships between artists and the magical spirit of some of rock and roll's greatest artists.

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Beth Fish Reads

Good
Reviewed by Beth F on Aug 04 2011

Through Just Kids, Smith fulfills her promise to her soul mate to write their story. A surprisingly tender and moving memoir of a generation and of two kids determined to see their dreams come true.

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http://flavorwire.com

Good
Reviewed by Emily Temple on Jan 20 2010

If you get a thrill from little secret stories about the great American artists of the ’70s, and want a peek and their social hierarchy and yes, insecurities, you will like this book. So, yeah, we liked it.

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The Cyberlibrarian Reads

Good
Reviewed by Miriam Downey on Jan 14 2011

Just Kids is a book for all of us, whether for me, who knew nothing of the times or the author, or for people like Arna, who lived a similar experience. It is an incredible book.

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The Internet Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Kathy Highcove on Mar 07 2011

Robert Mapplethorpe's death was evidently the end of a fertile collaboration. Just Kids breathes life into their memories and displays the unique artistry and talents of Patti Smith, still spinning along on the path she's blazed in her own universe.

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Niklas' Blog

Good
Reviewed by Niklas Pivic on May 18 2010

It’s really good, and a very worth-while read not only to Patti Smith fanatics, but to anybody who’s ever wanted to find their own way in love, life and art.

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http://www.heraldguide.com

Good
Reviewed by Kate Prendergast on Oct 21 2011

I appreciated this memoir because it read like a novel. Getting to know Patti Smith, the godmother of punk rock, as a character gave an interesting perspective.

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Glorified Love Letters

Good
Reviewed by Sara Habein on Jan 27 2011

Smith chronicles their journey with grace and wisdom in one of the most affecting memoirs I’ve ever read, Just Kids.

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Frontier Psychiatrist

Good
Reviewed by Gina Myers on Jan 06 2011

...there is something amazingly life-affirming about this book. According to the acknowledgments, Smith promised Mapplethorpe that she would one day write their story. There is something about that promise being kept, something about the beauty of this deep friendship, the care that existed between these two that is uplifting.

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andreaneronero@gmail.com 13 May 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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