Trish's Reviews > Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith
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's review
Feb 24, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: i-own, memoir, 2011-read

The beginning was very good, but once it got to the Hotel Chelsea part, it lost me, and I sped through the rest hoping it would get as good as the beginning again. Too much name dropping, and kind of a weird assumption by Patti Smith that she's just this ordinary person. Maybe that's how she feels, but to read "I hung out in the hotel lobby and William Burroughs asked about my poetry" (paraphrasing) as though she's talking about doing the dishes doesn't feel right.

It really is a book about Mapplethorpe, not about herself. But then it is not in depth about Mapplethorpe at all, since we only hear about him second hand and a lot of what he experienced and was inspired by wasn't explored. She was puzzled by his homosexuality, and tried not to think about it. Wait - she's living with him, in love with him, and he goes out "hustling" (making money as a male prostitute), and she's just like "whatever"? I'll keep the bed warm for when you get home? I would have like to have read exactly how that conversation went. Were things really so different in that time, or in that circle of people that this was no big deal? Just what men did in New York to make ends meet?

So, it's not really a book about Mapplethorpe (since we don't really get a sense of who he was, and miss huge parts of his life; from when Patti and he split until he's dying and she goes to see him). And it's not really a book about Patti Smith (since it doesn't tell much about her own rise to fame or relationships outside of Robert). It's a book about the two of them together. A love story about her first love. Told very romantically, leaving out any luridness. Which I can respect, by the way, since those type of details are none of my business.

So, what I liked: I really got the sense of New York, struggling artists, the scene they were in. Her writing captured that well. And she's a better writer than most who write a memoir.
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