Peter's Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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Apr 26, 14

bookshelves: auto-biography
Read from February 26 to 28, 2012

In 1967, when she was nineteen, Patti got pregnant. She left college and quit her factory job and after giving birth gave the baby up for adoption. When she came home, she decided to move to New York to start a new life. She wanted to be a painter and poet and though she had no job she knew a few friends who were students in Brooklyn. She ended up sleeping on their floors or some times rough on the streets. Then, running away from a date, she met Robert Mapplethorpe. The book is their story. How they became lovers, then friends and then muses to each other.

I loved this book so much. The writing is beautiful and poetic and somehow craft-like, sewing in little motifs that Patti and Robert talk about. The sequences of Patti and Roberts meeting is romantic and the ending so deeply touching that it made me very tearful! Throughout the book they both have a single-minded commitment to their art and support each other in their artistic endeavours. They ended up living in the Chelsea Hotel and meeting a lot of the famous people of the era. The friends, lovers, mentors and hero’s Patti discusses are all remembered with warm open-hearted kindness so that it never feels like she is name dropping for the sake of it. And her love, and romantic, maybe somewhat rose-tinted view, of the down and out New York of the sixties and seventies - the garrets, the alternative bars the dirty lofts and the flea-bag motels - comes through on every page. There is a definite and interesting overlap with ‘City Boy’ which takes place in New York of the same period, but Edmund White moved in very different circles, his book featured more literary types and also the Stonewall riots and the gay liberation movement. Where as Patti and Robert – whose work is so confrontational in its sexuality, seem outside of this. Patti’s world revolved more around the beats, Warhol factory outsiders and rock and rollers, but most of all it is about her enduring friendship with Robert and how it shaped her life.
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02/26/2012 page 100
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