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Home » Books » Biography » Composers & Musicians » Rock

Just Kids

By Patti Smith

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Format: Hardback, 279 pages
Other Information: illustrations
Published In: United States, 01 January 2010

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous--the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.

"Just Kids" begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.

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In her music, Patti Smith transformed rock 'n' roll into a kind of electric poetry, spoken word energized by the jolt and rumble of guitars and drums. It should be no surprise, then, that in narrating her memoir of her intimate friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, she turns in a performance that approaches art. Words bob and weave as if set to music, and Smith transforms her prose into a series of entrancing sounds-as interesting for their rhythms as their meaning. Using shifts in cadence and pregnant pauses, she allows silence to convey as much as words. Even phrases that clanged on the page sound perfect when Smith reads them herself. She writes of her youth and young womanhood, and something of those long-gone days emerges in the tone of her voice. The listener can hear traces of Smith's New Jersey roots in her occasionally dropped r's and long, flat vowels. An Ecco paperback. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Singer/songwriter/poet Smith, also known as the "grandmother of punk rock," recalls her early days in New York City when she was searching for a vocation and a direction in her life. Most of all, this is a recollection of her deep, intimate friendship with late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-89), a fellow hungry and aspiring creator whom she calls "the artist of my life." It also is a vivid depiction of life in late 1960s New York and the famous people she knew (for example, Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg). Smith's narrative is poetic and beautifully composed, and she herself reads in a stoic and reflective voice that is mesmerizing. Highly recommended. [The Ecco: HarperCollins hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 11/20/09, was an LJ and a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]-Phillip Oliver, Univ.of North Alabama Lib., Florence (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Riveting and exquisitely crafted." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Patti Smith's telling of the years she spent with Robert Mapplethorpe is full of optimism sprinkled with humor...JUST KIDS...is sorely lacking in irony or cynicism; Smith's worldview is infectious. She's a jumble of influences, but that's part of her charm."--Austin American-Statesman "Smith's beautifully crafted love letter to her friend Robert Mapplethorpe functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by passion for art and writing. Her elegant eulogy lays bare the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe's life and work."--Publishers Weekly, Top Ten Books of the Year "The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylan's 'Chronicles: Volume One, ' written with intimacy and grace...."--Chicago Tribune "A heartbreakingly sweet recollection of just that sort of vanished Bohemian life...Just as [Smith] stands out as an artiste in a movement based on collectivism, her singular voice gleams among rock memoirs as a work of literature."--Boston Globe "Patti Smith's memoir of her youth with Robert Mapplethorpe testifies to a rare and ferocious innocence...'Just Kids' is a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism."--Salon.com "A shockingly beautiful book...a classic, a romance about becoming an artist in the city, written in a spare, simple style of boyhood memoirs like Frank Conroy's 'Stop Time.'"--New York Magazine "In the end, [JUST KIDS is] not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City's '70s art scene itself."--Time Out New York "Deeply affecting...a vivid portrayal of a bygone New York that could support a countercultural artistic firmament...the power of this book comes from [Smith's] ability to recall lucid memories in straightforward prose."--BookForum "Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late '60s and early '70s that any alumnus has committed to print....This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it's preparation."--New York Times Book Review "Astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smith's lapidary prose....[JUST KIDS] is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written."--San Francisco Chronicle "A remarkable book --sweet and charming and many other words you wouldn't expect to apply to a punk-rock icon."--Newsday "Remarkable, evocative... JUST KIDS is more than just a gift to [Smith's] ex-lover; it's a gift to everyone who has ever been touched by their art, and to everyone who's ever been in love. Like the best of Smith's music and Mapplethorpe's art, this book is haunting and unforgettable."--NPR Boston "A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, and a vibrant profile of Smith's onetime boyfriend and lifelong muse, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989...JUST KIDS is ultimately a wonderful portal into the dawn of Smith's art."--Los Angeles Times "A spellbinding portrait of bohemian New York in the late 1960s and early '70s."--New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row "More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose."--Clive Davis, Vanity Fair "The most enchantingly evocative memoir of funky-but-chic New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s that any alumnus has yet committed to print."--Janet Maslin's top 10 books of 2010, New York Times "Just Kids shows how Smith integrated the romance of her twenty-year friendship with Mapplethorpe with her historical preoccupations, elevating them to an almost sacred status. The past, for Smith, has always driven her life forward. If only we could all be so free-spirited."--The Rumpus "Composed of incandescent sentences more revelatory than anything from Patti Smith's poems or songs, her romantic memoir also reveals what blunt narrative instruments the earlier career bios of her and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe have been."--Village Voice, Best Books of 2010 Round-Up "Sometimes there is justice in the world. That was my first thought when I heard that Patti Smith had won the National Book Award this fall for her glorious memoir, Just Kids."--Maureen Corrigan's favorite books of 2010, NPR's Fresh Air "Smith's writing about her early days with Mapplethorpe is fervid and incantatory but never falls into incoherence."--The Oregonian (Portland) "An utterly charming, captivating, intimate portrait of a late 1960s and early 1970s period of intense artistic ferment in downtown Manhattan significantly shaped and keenly observed by rock firebrand Smith."--Philadelphia Inquirer " A story of art, identity, devotion, discovery, and love, the book is [Smith's] first prose work...[it] conjures up the passionate collaboration--as lovers, friends, soul mates, and creators--that she and Mapplethorpe embarked on from the summer they met in Brooklyn in 1967."--Elle "[JUST KIDS] offers a revealing account of the fears and insecurities harbored by even the most incendiary artists, as well as their capacity for reverence and tenderness."--USA Today "Poetically written and vividly remembered. [Smith] reminded me of the idealism of art."--Matthew Weiner, creator of MAD MEN, in New York magazine "Reading rocker Smith's account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it's hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding."--People, Top 10 Books of 2010 "A revelation. In a spellbinding memoir as notable for its restraint as for its lucidity, its wit as well as its grace, Smith tells the story of how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other... beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible."--Booklist "JUST KIDS describes [Smith and Mapplethorpe's] ascent with a forthright sweetness that will ring true to anyone who knows her work."--Bloomberg.com "A touching tale of love and devotion."--Associated Press "Funny, fascinating, oddly tender."--O, The Oprah Magazine "One of the best books ever written on becoming an artist...Jesus may have died for somebody's sins, but Patti Smith lives and writes and sings for all of us."--Washington Post "One of the best things I've ever read in my life."--Don Imus "To read JUST KIDS is to be struck by how powerfully the two, especially Smith, believed in the power of art....Despite her music's angry clamor, despite his sometimes revolting images, Smith and Mapplethorpe retain, in her telling, a primal, childlike innocence."--Dallas Morning News "Captivating....a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life. Grade: A."--Entertainment Weekly "[JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating."--Tampa Tribune "[Just Kids] reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment's guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory -- one that guides us through the present and into the future."--Michael Stipe, Time magazine "Smith lovingly depicts the denizens of the Chelsea Hotel - is that Janis Joplin at the bar? - and the rock club CBGB, all the while pondering how to be an uncompromising artist who nonetheless needs to pay the rent."--Boston Globe [Just Kids] reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenment s guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory one that guides us through the present and into the future. --Michael Stipe, Time magazine" Reading rocker Smith s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding. --People, Top 10 Books of 2010" The most enchantingly evocative memoir of funky-but-chic New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s that any alumnus has yet committed to print. --Janet Maslin's top 10 books of 2010, New York Times" Composed of incandescent sentences more revelatory than anything from Patti Smith s poems or songs, her romantic memoir also reveals what blunt narrative instruments the earlier career bios of her and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe have been. --Village Voice, Best Books of 2010 Round-Up" Smith s beautifully crafted love letter to her friend Robert Mapplethorpe functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by passion for art and writing. Her elegant eulogy lays bare the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe s life and work. --Publishers Weekly, Top Ten Books of the Year" Poetically written and vividly remembered. [Smith] reminded me of the idealism of art. --Matthew Weiner, creator of MAD MEN, in New York magazine" A spellbinding portrait of bohemian New York in the late 1960s and early 70s. --New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row" One of the best things I ve ever read in my life. --Don Imus" Sometimes there is justice in the world. That was my first thought when I heard that Patti Smith had won the National Book Award this fall for her glorious memoir, Just Kids. --Maureen Corrigan's favorite books of 2010, NPR's Fresh Air" [JUST KIDS] offers a revealing account of the fears and insecurities harbored by even the most incendiary artists, as well as their capacity for reverence and tenderness. --USA Today" Smith s writing about her early days with Mapplethorpe is fervid and incantatory but never falls into incoherence. --The Oregonian (Portland)" A heartbreakingly sweet recollection of just that sort of vanished Bohemian life...Just as [Smith] stands out as an artiste in a movement based on collectivism, her singular voice gleams among rock memoirs as a work of literature. --Boston Globe" Just Kids shows how Smith integrated the romance of her twenty-year friendship with Mapplethorpe with her historical preoccupations, elevating them to an almost sacred status. The past, for Smith, has always driven her life forward. If only we could all be so free-spirited. --The Rumpus" Patti Smith s telling of the years she spent with Robert Mapplethorpe is full of optimism sprinkled with humor...JUST KIDS...is sorely lacking in irony or cynicism; Smith s worldview is infectious. She s a jumble of influences, but that s part of her charm. --Austin American-Statesman" A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, and a vibrant profile of Smith s onetime boyfriend and lifelong muse, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989...JUST KIDS is ultimately a wonderful portal into the dawn of Smith s art. --Los Angeles Times" A remarkable book --sweet and charming and many other words you wouldn t expect to apply to a punk-rock icon. --Newsday" A story of art, identity, devotion, discovery, and love, the book is [Smith s] first prose work...[it] conjures up the passionate collaboration--as lovers, friends, soul mates, and creators--that she and Mapplethorpe embarked on from the summer they met in Brooklyn in 1967. --Elle" Deeply affecting...a vivid portrayal of a bygone New York that could support a countercultural artistic firmament...the power of this book comes from [Smith s] ability to recall lucid memories in straightforward prose. --BookForum" Funny, fascinating, oddly tender. --O, The Oprah Magazine" Patti Smith s memoir of her youth with Robert Mapplethorpe testifies to a rare and ferocious innocence... Just Kids is a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism. --Salon.com" A shockingly beautiful book...a classic, a romance about becoming an artist in the city, written in a spare, simple style of boyhood memoirs like Frank Conroy s Stop Time. --New York Magazine" [A] beautifully crafted love letter to [Robert Mapplethorpe]...Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York...[a] tender and tough memoir...[an] elegant eulogy. --Publishers Weekly (starred review)" Riveting and exquisitely crafted. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)" Captivating....a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life. Grade: A. --Entertainment Weekly" More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose. --Clive Davis, Vanity Fair" In the end, [JUST KIDS is] not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City s 70s art scene itself. --Time Out New York" The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylan s Chronicles: Volume One, written with intimacy and grace.... --Chicago Tribune" Astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smith s lapidary prose....[JUST KIDS] is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written. --San Francisco Chronicle" [JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating. --Tampa Tribune" Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late 60s and early 70s that any alumnus has committed to print....This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes it s preparation. --New York Times Book Review" A touching tale of love and devotion. --Associated Press" JUST KIDS describes [Smith and Mapplethorpe s] ascent with a forthright sweetness that will ring true to anyone who knows her work. --Bloomberg.com" To read JUST KIDS is to be struck by how powerfully the two, especially Smith, believed in the power of art....Despite her music s angry clamor, despite his sometimes revolting images, Smith and Mapplethorpe retain, in her telling, a primal, childlike innocence. --Dallas Morning News" One of the best books ever written on becoming an artist...Jesus may have died for somebody s sins, but Patti Smith lives and writes and sings for all of us. --Washington Post" Remarkable, evocative... JUST KIDS is more than just a gift to [Smith s] ex-lover; it s a gift to everyone who has ever been touched by their art, and to everyone who s ever been in love. Like the best of Smith s music and Mapplethorpe s art, this book is haunting and unforgettable. --NPR Boston" A revelation. In a spellbinding memoir as notable for its restraint as for its lucidity, its wit as well as its grace, Smith tells the story of how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other... beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible. --Booklist" An utterly charming, captivating, intimate portrait of a late 1960s and early 1970s period of intense artistic ferment in downtown Manhattan significantly shaped and keenly observed by rock firebrand Smith. --Philadelphia Inquirer" Smith lovingly depicts the denizens of the Chelsea Hotel - is that Janis Joplin at the bar? - and the rock club CBGB, all the while pondering how to be an uncompromising artist who nonetheless needs to pay the rent. --Boston Globe" "Riveting and exquisitely crafted."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "[A] beautifully crafted love letter to [Robert Mapplethorpe]...Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York...[a] tender and tough memoir...[an] elegant eulogy."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

EAN: 9780066211312
ISBN: 006621131X
Publisher: Ecco Press
Dimensions: 23.37 x 15.8 x 2.95 centimetres (0.59 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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