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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 28 November 2012
I found this a compelling insight into the complex, close and highly (artistically and emotionally, if not always financially) supportive relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I'm not familiar with the work of RM and have come to the book as a fan of the author's music, and whilst music and some of its icons of the late 60s to mid 70s do get a mention (Jimi, The Doors, Janis, Tim Buckley) it is not a book about music. Rather, the central story concerns the artistic paths taken by two driven individuals. You get the impression neither could have achieved what they did without the other, and because I know nothing about the work of RM I have accepted the praise heaped on it by the author (other reviewers clearly think otherwise).
The book beautifully evokes New York with characters from many forms of the arts including painters, poets, fashion designers and musicians - as well as just the beautiful.
I personally really liked the space given to Harry Smith (who lived in the Chelsea Hotel at the same time as PS and RM), who I had previously only known as the enigmatic creator of the important and highly influential collection of field recordings of American folk.
Highly readable, and recommended.

PS I write short reviews to try and help people decide quickly whether an item might be of interest. If you mark this review "unhelpful" (not simply that you disagree with me), then a short comment explaining why would be appreciated.
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Anyone familiar with the lives and works of
Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe will know
that this story cannot have a happy ending.
Mr Mapplethorpe's death from AIDS-related illness
in 1989 drew a sad line underneath a unique
friendship. 'Just Kids' is Mme Smith's memoir of
that extraordinary relationship.

That they were kindred spirits from the start is evident
in Smith's affectionate prose. The energy that held them
together, in love and in adversity, contributed immeasurably
to their respective artistic achievements.
I had not realised how intertwined their creative paths
had been until reading this beautifully written book.

The 'High Priestess Of Punk' is a surprisingly gentle
and sensitive narrator. Starting with tender and vivid
reflections of her childhood in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
we quickly see that she will not linger there for long.
That she was an outsider (albeit a somewhat timid one)
from the start made her eventual pilgrimage to the dark
beating heart of culture in New York City inevitable.

She and Mapplethorpe fell into each others lives as much by
chance as by design. The descriptions of their early struggles
to establish a place for their art are unsentimentally drawn.
Her tales from the bowels of the Hotel Chelsea and accounts of
the brutal pecking order of bohemian wannabes at clubs like
Max's Kansas City are littered with the names of iconic
characters from this colourful period of the city's history.
It is as much a story of a time and place as it is an
excavation of her own emotional and creative trajectory.

That each of them eventually found their place (she in the
world of rock and roll and he in the photographer's studio)
would perhaps not have happened in quite the same way had
their mutual dependency, support, encouragement and love
not had the chance to flourish in those heady early years.

That their lives eventually moved in different directions
did not diminish the intensity and importance of their
primary and enduring attachment to one another.

'Just Kids' is a grown-up tale of two souls in search of meaning.

Highly Recommended.
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on 2 February 2010
This is an interesting memoir, especially for fans of Mapelthrope or Patti Smith. For the younger generation who may not be familiar with these two names. Maplethorpe was a photographer with a style that was recognizable no matter his subject (he died of AIDs in his early 40s in 1989) and lets just say he wore his homosexuality proudly (for more on mapelthorpe I recommend Mapplethorpe: A Biography). Smith is the poet singer song writer often referred to as the grandma of punk rock and an activist for many causes to this very day. In this Memoir Smith writes about her relationship with Maplethorpe in the late and early 1970s before they became famous. I thought it was fascinating to read about these two icons before they realized who the were or wanted to be. Its hard not to think of Smith as a poet rebel, guitar in hand or Mapelthorpe as the in your face artist, but Smith's book takes the reader back to when both were "Just Kids." You see Smith and Maplethorpe as young people, not always secure in who they are, groping to find their passions that were burning inside but not fully understood. In this memoir Smith also presents a picture of a New York that no longer exists, and that alone makes this wonderful reading. Not all song writers can successfully write lyrics as well as prose, Smith though has a gift with the written word that is transcendent. Heart felt and honest, like her music, I highly recommend this book. For more honest reading concerning Hollywood Icons in the 1960s I have to recommend "Misfits Country."
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on 28 March 2010
This book arrived swiftly and safely. It is a wonderful autobiography, the best I have read in years. Sensitively and honestly written, it is obvious that Patti Smith is a world away from celebrity culture. She is not influenced by money, status or fame..how bloody refreshing. She gives perceptive insights into many of the fast movers in the late 60s and early 70s American pop and art culture. I only wish I had no short term memory so I could read it again afresh....BRILLIANT
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on 30 January 2011
Just Kids I was interested in the Kindle version of this but no photographs are included due to copyright reasons.
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on 6 January 2016
Fantastic material but sadly put together so badly that for me, it was ruined. Wanted to love it so much more than I did. Really disappointing. The aspects that most irritated me were
• the very sterile first person voice which made the narrative appear to be written (not recalled) by someone remote from the experiences (and quickly trying to gt it down on paper before they
forget "the important bits". A ghost writer perhaps...
• the truly odd forced links and "cliff hanger pauses" eg "It would be while before I put my experience in the theater into action" The book was jammed with these non sequiturs
• random episodes just dumped in the middle of the text seemingly only to provide us with a link to another character
That said it was a fascinating picture of Patti Smith's "start" and of course Robert Mapplethorpe.
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on 25 September 2011
I enjoyed this book and read it as part of my book club but was very disappointed to see that the Kindle version had none of the pictures in it which the text version has. For this particular book which is about Patti Smith's relationship with the photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe, the photos are an intrinsic part and so I felt frustrated and slightly cheated that they weren't included in my version as they are referred to many times throughout the text.

It's wrong to sell this type of book on Kindle without a big warning sign. Had I known this beforehand I wouldn't have bought it on Kindle.
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on 25 August 2010
Beautifully written and moving account of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe's relationship. It's clear that Patti Smith thought about every element of this: the font, the photographs, the layout, as well as the poetry of it. Even if you know nothing about either of them (which my partner didn't until I urged him to give it a go) you will be touched by the hopes and dreams of these two 'kids'.
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on 11 May 2015
This is a very interesting and well-written book. I had no idea who Patti Smith was but bought it because I heard about it on the radio. It has introduced me to new (to me) music, art and photography and a really interested look into someone's life and times. I was reading it on the train and someone started a conversation with me about it because she had read it. I would recommend it to anyone whether you know Patti Smith or not.
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on 8 November 2015
Before reading this book I had no idea who Robert Mapplethorpe was and was only really aware of Patti Smith being a singer who sang some songs I think I kinda remembered. I bought this hoping it would be another interesting look at the radical grime of 1970s NYC. In the end this was a fascinating tale of love, art, obsession and struggle all set against this great city. I just can't recommend this book enough
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