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Just Kids (read by Patti Smith)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  117,353 Ratings  ·  8,410 Reviews
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 ChelseaHotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality t ...more
Audiobook, 0 pages
Published July 26th 2011 by Harper Audio (first published 2010)
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Roseamber Sumner It's an autobiography, the richest I've ever read. I listened to the audiobook version, Patti reading. She even sings at one point, and reads her…moreIt's an autobiography, the richest I've ever read. I listened to the audiobook version, Patti reading. She even sings at one point, and reads her poetry, nice and slow at the end of the book, her tributes to lost loves. I loved every word.(less)
Sam Anthony I didn't know anything about Robert Mapplethorpe, nor much about Patti Smith besides knowing that she was influential in the punk movement. I still…moreI didn't know anything about Robert Mapplethorpe, nor much about Patti Smith besides knowing that she was influential in the punk movement. I still immensely enjoyed this book. It's beautifully written and inspiring if you have a creative side. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Eddie Watkins
I never thought much about Patti Smith. The images I saw of her never attracted me, and what I knew of her Rimbaud fixation turned me off. I always had a problem with the Beat and Punk appropriation of Rimbaud as more a figure of rebellion than a sophisticated poet. For me poetry is a phenomenon of the page, not an outfit you wear down the street. I also never got into Punk Rock. Going to college in the fall of 1983 I had probably only heard of The Sex Pistols, though I had never listened to the ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stayin’ up for days in the Chelsea Hotel...

Just Kids makes me feel so damn left out. If only I had been able to show up at the Chelsea in the early 1970s. I coulda been a contender, I could have lived for art. Oh yes, I would have been very naïve just like Patti had been at first. I totally get that. I don’t think I could have been as brave tho'. Art is a harsh mistress.

Suddenly [Robert] looked up and said, “Patti, did art get us?”

I looked away, not really wanting to think about it. “I do
Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy
Looking For You (I Was)

I can see why some reviews detect white-washing or sugar-coating in "Just Kids", but I wanted desperately to believe the story Patti Smith was telling about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.

Glitter in Their Eyes

Patti admits to her naivete, but I don't think she was trying to hide stuff from her kids or anything.

Nor do I think she closed off her emotions about her past.

Ultimately, the book is a love story, only the love extended over a long period, and sometimes it
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are some moments of real poignancy here and some very deft turns of phrase, but I was also just bored stiff for most of it. Clearly Smith has led a really interesting life, but she's just not a great writer. The great bulk of the book was a long series of "Then this happened. Then that happened. Then Robert did this. Then I did that." And while there is a lot of reflection about art, there is very little on the subject of her relationship with Mapplethorpe, supposedly the purpose of writin ...more
I admire this woman. She writes a deft, deeply felt prose. She has a peerless memory. She remembers gestures, apparel worn thirty years ago, favorite objects, facial expressions, stretches of dialog. She can reanimate for us moments of deep emotional complexity. This was clearly a labor of love. The character study of Robert Mapplethorpe is disturbing, shattering. We watch Smith living with him as a veil is lifted from her awareness, as her empathy broadens and she carries the reader along with ...more
I loved this book. I did not want it to end. To be honest, I did not know much about Patti Smith other than her music. When the book initially came out, I heard so many wonderful things about it. I thought I should give it a shot. But frankly, I was a bit tired of the 'musician' bio books as some were just so dreadful. I was so wrong to think that and hold off on this book.

I decided to go with the audio. I was immediately enthralled with it. The audio is narrated by Smith and she does an incredi
4.5 Stars

”It was the summer Coltrane died. The summer of “Crystal Ship.” Flower children raised their empty arms and China exploded the H-bomb. Jimi Hendrix set his guitar in flames in Monterey. AM radio played “Ode to Billie Joe.” There were riots in Newark, Milwaukee, and Detroit. It was the summer of Elvira Madigan, the summer of love. And in this shifting, inhospitable atmosphere, a chance encounter change the course of my life.”

It was that summer when Patti Smith met Robert Mapplethorpe. Ju
Will Byrnes
Hi Ho, the artistic life.

I had very divergent feelings about Just Kids, Patti Smith's National-Book-Award-winning memoir about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe. There were times that I felt moved by the beauty of her writing, and others in which I found her to be nothing more than another spoiled, entitled kid who got where she got to, talented or not, because of connections. It is not that Smith arrived in NYC with a list of names and numbers. But she did have the good fortune to encoun
Patrick Brown
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirsandbios
This book is remarkably easy to parody. Here, I'll try:

"I was crossing Tompkins Square Park when I ran into a young man wearing a gabardine vest. He smiled at me and called me "Sister." It was a young George Carlin. Robert hated him because he frequently had flakes of rye bread in his beard, but I loved how he could make me laugh with his impressions of Mick Jagger. On this morning, though, we wept together at the news that Paul McCartney would have to sell his house in Cannes. It was a sort of
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will be added to "The Art Spirit" as an essential volume on my writer's "behind the desk" bookshelf, the story of two baby artists and how they grew. There's an oddly innocent tone to this all--for instance, the sexual relationship between the two of them is never really discussed, only accepted--when Patti gets the clap, we understand it's from him, but this is not a kiss and tell memoir. It's an opportunity to walk a mile in Patti Smith's head, in a less coded and more factual way th ...more
Elizabeth Fleming
Dec 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book incredibly boring. It started off ok, but after a bit her writing style began to get on my nerves (examples: using the word "for" instead of "because," as in "I went to the diner, for I was hungry" and "I hadn't any money" instead of "I didn't have any money" and "I lay upon the mattress" instead of the simpler, just fine, "I lay on," ugh. Pretentious). Then she goes on and on and ON about Rimbaud. Enough about Rimbaud already. Seriously. I'm not kidding. And Baudelaire. Shut u ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
its dark no im wrong its dawn i have my shades on
—‘Sleepless 66’

Patti Smith writes to us out of the great and endless narcotic American night in a language inherited from the Beats and refined across a lifetime of lines scribbled on journals and diner napkins and hotel matchbooks, carving out her version of the truth. Despite all her awed talk of Mallarmé and Baudelaire, she is much more in sync with her compatriots like Paul Bowles and Hunter S. Thompson, and when she walks through a New York c
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Last year, I read Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road. I didn't know much about Steinem, but her book made me see her in a whole new light -- not an icon, but a lovely dedicated generous person. I had a similar experience listening to the audio of Patti Smith's Just Kids. I didn't know much about her, but certainly wasn't expecting to be so charmed by her. The memoir focuses on her early adult years. She moved to New York, developed a complicated relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and tried ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how to do this book proper justice in a review. Just Kids is a book that enthralled me, surprised me, and ultimately, a book that I have fallen in love with. Not only is it one of the best books I've read this year, it is one of the best books I have ever read.

Knowing very little about Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe going into reading this, I figured I would enjoy it but not quite appreciate it as much as someone who is a big fan of either. And while that might be true, I still
Iris P
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love music memoirs
Recommended to Iris P by: Jim
Just Kids

★★★ 3 Stars

I am frankly pretty surprised that this popular memoir didn't quite click with me. Just Kids should've been a perfect match and yet somehow I could never completely connect with the world and the lives of the people it chronicles.

Don't get me wrong, Smith's wordsmith is gorgeous and she is a wonderful storyteller. Her account of how she and her lover/collaborator/friend Robert Mapplethorpe, met and ended up right at the center of New York's influential art and music scene du
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Γέμισα τρείς σελίδες τετραδίου μέχρι να αποφασίσω τι ταιριάζει ακριβώς να γράψω για το «Πάτι και Ρόμπερτ» και ο λόγος που δυσκολεύτηκα είναι το πόσο με εξέπληξε. Δεν είχα ιδέα για το ποια είναι η Πάτι Σμιθ, δεν είχα ιδέα για το έργο της, δεν είχα ιδέα για το πόσο ρομαντική, ευαίσθητη, λυρική είναι η ψυχή της και η τέχνη της.
Αυτό ακριβώς είναι και αυτό το βιβλίο, όμορφο. Η Πάτι μας μιλάει για τον ερχομό της και την παραμονή της στην Νέα Υόρκη του 69’ παρομοιάζοντας την με την είσοδο της Αλίκης στ
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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 the
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"What should we aspire to as we go on our road? When I was in my early 20s, I was lucky to have William Burroughs as a friend and mentor. When I was with him and I asked him this question: “what should I aspire to?” and he thought, and he said: “my dear, a gold American Express would be good.” but after that he said very thoughtfully, “build your name.” and I said, “William, my name is Smith.” and he said, “well, you’ll have to build a little harder.” but what William meant when he told me to bu
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
"Why can't I write something that would awake the dead? That pursuit is what burns most deeply. I got over the loss of his desk and chair, but never the desire to produce a string of words more precious than the emeralds of Cortes. Yet I have a lock of his hair, a handful of his ashes, a box of his letters, a goatskin tambourine. And in that folds of faded violet tissue a necklace, two violet plaques etched in Arabic, strung with black and silver threads, given to me by the boy who loved Michela ...more
sweet jane
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ένα βιβλίο-ύμνος στη συντροφικότητα, στον έρωτα και στην τέχνη.

Η Πατι είναι ένα μικρό κορίτσι χαμένο στους στίχους του Ρεμπώ και στους πίνακες των εξπρεσινιστών και ο Ρόμπερτ ένα τρυφερό αγόρι περίεργο για κάθε τι ακραίο, μαζί θα ξεκινήσουν το συναρπαστικό ταξίδι στον κόσμο της τέχνης σαν άλλοι Χάνσεν και Γκρέτσελ. Θα βρεθούν ανάμεσα σε ποιητές, ζωγράφους και παράφρονες.

Η Πατι θα ακούσει το μεγάλο ο όνειρο του Χεντριξ, θα γράψει ένα τραγούδι για την Τζοπλιν και θα δει τους Doors live λίγο πριν
"Nothing is finished until you see it."
- Robert Mapplethorpe, quoted in 'Just Kids'

"Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself?"
- Patti Smith, 'Just Kids'


A memoir of images, people, and hopes 'Just Kids' explores the funky relationship of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe as they began their unique relationship and struggled to emerge as artists. The power of this memoir is the way Patti Smith works the words to create a canvas broad enough to catch both Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith
As he was dying Robert Mapplethorpe ask Patti Smith to write their story; "You have to he said, no one but you can write it". After reading this book I can understand why he said that. No biographer, other than Patti, could know, let alone describe, the level of trust and dependence they shared; and their singular kind of love that, even after reading this, is hard for the reader to fully understand.

What capable hands he left that project in, I'm not sure he even realized it, I'm not sure Patti
Did anyone think Patti was "whitewashing" her past in this?

"longing. that desire. that tapeworm.a word
I hadn't learned".... (Seventh Heaven- "Longing")

I really longed to LOVE "Just Kids", to go the whole hog with 5 stars. I had waited long enough to get hold of a copy & eventually when my library got it in some jerk kept it overdue 3 whole months and I was checking with them every 2nd day like a teenager. "Is it back yet". I wore out my welcome buying up discarded books and lurking near the
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't just hate this book. I cherished my hatred for this book. Luxuriated in it. Drank deeply of my hatred.

I didn't just find the writing clunky, I found it odd, troubled by an overfamiliar relationship with the passive voice (lots of things "could be seen"), verbs (no one ever god damn says anything; they discourse, spiel, spin, regale, blah blah blah), and prepositions (why say "on" when you can add a syllable to get "upon"? why use the mundane "because" when you can replace it with "for"
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll say this for Patti Smith: Homegirl certainly knows how to write lifestyle porn.

Somewhere between the Chelsea Hotel and the insertion of a millionaire benefactor I closed her love letter to Robert Mapplethorpe, "Just Kids," bonked myself in the head and said "Knock it off." I needed to stop being dazzled and wooed and to start seeing through clear eyes or I'd wake up in a bus stop in Detroit clutching a one-way ticket to 1971.

People do that. Chuck it all, grab a blanket, commit 100 percent
MJ Nicholls
There is a whiff of earnestness about Patti Smith but now we’ve got that out the way, shut up and listen to Horses, Easter, Gone Again and Trampin’ back-to-back for a whole month. If your nerve-endings and spatial awareness aren’t merrily bamboozled with light and love, you are not fit for human habitation. For Patti is a creature unto herself.

Just Kids radiates pure, unfiltered love for her friend Robert Mapplethorpe, and its simple prose tells a powerful tale of two driven artists seeking rele
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book has remained unread on my shelves at home since it won the National Book Award for non-fiction in 2010. I meant to read it, but when one of my book clubs picked it, I finally had the push I needed.
"In my low periods, I wondered what was the point of creating art. .. I craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself."
I knew vaguely of Patti Smith because of her music, and went into this thinking that she would be writing about it. It's in there slightly, but this is really the story of
It is difficult for me to think of an artist who illuminates pure positive affect in the way that Patti Smith does. For someone who always had a special place in his heart for Patti's "Horses" record, I can safely say there are moments where her music and her words have taken my mind and my heart to places I would have never imagined. For me, the record has a similar effect to Allen Ginsberg's, "Howl," and Walt Whitman's, "Song of Myself." The passion, the energy, the blood-racing anticipation b ...more
The runaway artist is a typical phase of adolescence, and the true measure of one’s devotion to a creative life is the ability to sustain the kind of drive that can keep you going through the hunger, cold, loneliness and (perhaps worst of all) the disillusionment of adulthood. Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe had this drive in spades, although the route they used to reach their final goals can be seen as both fortuitous and questionable. The last thing an artist wants to be is a “sell out,” b ...more
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Only a fool would regret being had by art; or a saint.

I read the greek translation by Aleksis Kalofolias*, translator, bassist and vocalist of the legendary greek punk rock band The Last Drive, whom I had the pleasure to see live at a festival in my town a few months back. I think there could hardly be a more suitable person to take over the task of introducing Patti Smith's work to the greek audience. Not only did he do a hell of a job, he also provided a plethora of information on pretty muc
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PATTI SMITH is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Ga
More about Patti Smith...

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“No one expected me. Everything awaited me.” 1501 likes
“Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.” 1483 likes
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