Colleen O'Neill Conlan's Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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Jun 02, 12

bookshelves: bio-memoir, book-on-disc
Read in June, 2012

I read this book when it first came out and loved it. When I found out it was available on disc, and read by Patti Smith herself, I had to get it. There is something especially compelling about hearing the author's voice reading her own words. Such a treat.

This memoir focuses on Smith's intense bond with her lover/beloved friend/partner-in-crime, artist Robert Mapplethorpe. But it's also about her great love for NYC, and her own formation as an artist, poet, and musician. She went to New York, spent her first nights sleeping in a doorway, before meeting Mapplethorpe and discovering the city together. NYC in the 70s, and Patti was right in the heart of it. Hearing her voice telling her tale, she sounds like such an innocent, open to all experiences and to all the people she meets. Funny as it sounds, she seems to have been a kind of gritty, punk Forrest Gump, in the thick of every scene in the city, meeting and interacting with all the city's icons—before becoming one herself. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Andy Warhol, William Burroughs, Grace Slick, and many, many more. And the places: CBGB's, Max's Kansas City, and of course, the infamous Chelsea Motel. It's all there. She recreates an era and shares it.

The disc ends with poems Smith wrote for Sam Wagstaff's memorial, for Mapplethorpe's memorial, and others, and again, it is such a gift to hear her read her own poems. There's a resonance in the words and phrasing that is different from merely reading them on the page. Do yourself a favor and get this book on disc!

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