National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2010
Patti Smith’s evocative, honest and moving coming-of-age story of her extraordinary relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe
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.
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The most spectacular experience
The narration and the beauty of the language, harmonising fully with the story, made this my most enjoyable audiobook experience for me to date. I was not into Patti Smith nor very fascinated by the age or Chelsea Hotel before but needed to start going through her work afterwards. And felt an extreme urge to quit my job, sit on a floor and create, and just listen to this over and over (I just barely manage to refrain though)
The story in itself is not really what makes this book. All the moments where Patti Smith lets us peak below her skin, the vulnerable moments, the moments of sheer joy, the uncertainties of life- those are why this book is such a treasure.
The story is read with one voice, not portraying the people she has met in her life by different voices, but rather as personal recollections of events.
There were occasions of tears running down my cheeks, despite sitting on the commuter train. And episodes where I giggled. But which of all the reflections and events that will move the listener are probably different for every person. Just be prepared to be emotionally involved at some level.