Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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Feb 08, 10

bookshelves: nonfiction, biography-memoir, four-star-nonfiction
Read in February, 2010

Smith writes with a poet's clear imagery and an economy of words all too rare in the memoir genre.
Before Robert Mapplethorpe died, Patti Smith promised him that she would one day write the story of their years in New York City. Now, twenty years after his death, she has made good on that promise.

This is the story of a beautiful, complex, demanding and ever-evolving friendship between two young, hopeful, actively unconventional creatives. They alternated in the role of muse to each other as they felt their way through the New York City art/poetry/theater/music scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were struggling to find their special niches and become accepted as artists. In this process they were often also struggling for simple survival. They frequently went hungry and had no place to sleep, all the while bolstering each other's resolve and refusing to give up their dreams.

I never really knew anything about Robert Mapplethorpe aside from a big flap in the 80s about how his work was offensive. Smith writes about him with such tenderness and honesty that I couldn't help weeping when she described his death as a result of AIDS. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend like Patti Smith---a friend who could remember for us our youthful, most hopeful, most vulnerable selves and memorialize us so genuinely.
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02/03/2010 page 141
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" I'm so pleased for Patti. This heart-filled book won the 2010 National Book Award!


Julie ‎"Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don't abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book." Patti Smith, 11.16.10, accepting the National Book Award for her memoir, "Just Kids"

This was my Facebook status update last week... :)


Priscilla Thanks for letting me know about the dvd. I will track it down. You captured my thoughts about this memoir perfectly in your comment about the film. I too loved "Patti's utter absence of vanity or affectation."


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Priscilla, when you watch the film you'll REALLY see what I mean about her lack of vanity. She doesn't worry about hair or makeup or clothes, even on camera. She's just so totally herself. I wish I could have that "take me or leave me as I am" confidence.


Priscilla I haven't found the documentary yet, but am loving this talk she gave at The National Portrait Gallery:
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/11379878
Love your portrait on goodreads, btw!


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Thanks for the link. She's just so REAL.

Priscilla wrote: "Love your portrait on goodreads, btw!"
Thanks! I popped it in there a long time ago because it made me laugh every time I looked at it. Now I feel like it's my Good Reads "identity" and no one will know who I am if I change the picture. ;-)


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