Just Kids (Paperback)

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In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.  An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

Praise For…


“[Just Kids] reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment’s guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory — one that guides us through the present and into the future.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Composed of incandescent sentences more revelatory than anything from Patti Smith’s poems or songs, her romantic memoir also reveals what blunt narrative instruments the earlier career bios of her and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe have been.”

“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.”

“Poetically written and vividly remembered. [Smith] reminded me of the idealism of art.”

“A spellbinding portrait of bohemian New York in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.”

“One of the best things I’ve ever read in my life.”

“Sometimes there is justice in the world. That was my first thought when I heard that Patti Smith had won the National Book Award this fall for her glorious memoir, Just Kids.”

“[JUST KIDS] offers a revealing account of the fears and insecurities harbored by even the most incendiary artists, as well as their capacity for reverence and tenderness.”

“Smith’s writing about her early days with Mapplethorpe is fervid and incantatory but never falls into incoherence.”

“A heartbreakingly sweet recollection of just that sort of vanished Bohemian life...Just as [Smith] stands out as an artiste in a movement based on collectivism, her singular voice gleams among rock memoirs as a work of literature.”

“Just Kids shows how Smith integrated the romance of her twenty-year friendship with Mapplethorpe with her historical preoccupations, elevating them to an almost sacred status. The past, for Smith, has always driven her life forward. If only we could all be so free-spirited.”

“Patti Smith’s telling of the years she spent with Robert Mapplethorpe is full of optimism sprinkled with humor...JUST KIDS...is sorely lacking in irony or cynicism; Smith’s worldview is infectious. She’s a jumble of influences, but that’s part of her charm.”

“A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, and a vibrant profile of Smith’s onetime boyfriend and lifelong muse, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989...JUST KIDS is ultimately a wonderful portal into the dawn of Smith’s art.”

“A remarkable book --sweet and charming and many other words you wouldn’t expect to apply to a punk-rock icon.”

” A story of art, identity, devotion, discovery, and love, the book is [Smith’s] first prose work...[it] conjures up the passionate collaboration--as lovers, friends, soul mates, and creators--that she and Mapplethorpe embarked on from the summer they met in Brooklyn in 1967.”

“Deeply affecting...a vivid portrayal of a bygone New York that could support a countercultural artistic firmament...the power of this book comes from [Smith’s] ability to recall lucid memories in straightforward prose.”

“Funny, fascinating, oddly tender.”

“Patti Smith’s memoir of her youth with Robert Mapplethorpe testifies to a rare and ferocious innocence...’Just Kids’ is a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism.”

“A shockingly beautiful book...a classic, a romance about becoming an artist in the city, written in a spare, simple style of boyhood memoirs like Frank Conroy’s ‘Stop Time.’”

“[A] beautifully crafted love letter to [Robert Mapplethorpe]...Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York...[a] tender and tough memoir...[an] elegant eulogy.”

“Riveting and exquisitely crafted.”

“Captivating....a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life. Grade: A.”

“More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose.”

“In the end, [JUST KIDS is] not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City’s ‘70s art scene itself.”

“The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One,’ written with intimacy and grace....”

“Astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smith’s lapidary prose....[JUST KIDS] is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written.”

“[JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating.”

“Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late ’60s and early ’70s that any alumnus has committed to print....This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it’s preparation.”

“A touching tale of love and devotion.”

“JUST KIDS describes [Smith and Mapplethorpe’s] ascent with a forthright sweetness that will ring true to anyone who knows her work.”

“To read JUST KIDS is to be struck by how powerfully the two, especially Smith, believed in the power of art....Despite her music’s angry clamor, despite his sometimes revolting images, Smith and Mapplethorpe retain, in her telling, a primal, childlike innocence.”

“One of the best books ever written on becoming an artist...Jesus may have died for somebody’s sins, but Patti Smith lives and writes and sings for all of us.”

“Remarkable, evocative... JUST KIDS is more than just a gift to [Smith’s] ex-lover; it’s a gift to everyone who has ever been touched by their art, and to everyone who’s ever been in love. Like the best of Smith’s music and Mapplethorpe’s art, this book is haunting and unforgettable.”

“A revelation. In a spellbinding memoir as notable for its restraint as for its lucidity, its wit as well as its grace, Smith tells the story of how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other... beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible.”

“An utterly charming, captivating, intimate portrait of a late 1960s and early 1970s period of intense artistic ferment in downtown Manhattan significantly shaped and keenly observed by rock firebrand Smith.”

“Smith lovingly depicts the denizens of the Chelsea Hotel - is that Janis Joplin at the bar? - and the rock club CBGB, all the while pondering how to be an uncompromising artist who nonetheless needs to pay the rent.”


Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780060936228
ISBN-10: 0060936223
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2010
Pages: 320
Language: English