Book – Just Kids, Patti Smith

More often than not, I make brief notes when I’m reading a book making the review a little easier. I didn’t in this case.

I’m besotted from the minute I start reading it and just didn’t want to stop mid-sentence to write any words.

It tells the story of Ms Smith’s growing up, or rather growing of age in New York and as the wonderful cover depicts, with soul mate Robert Mapplethorpe. There is a little on both their backgrounds which wonderfully sets the scene of all their escapades from the late 1960s until the time of Robert’s death in 1989.

Their first break was being accepted into New York’s Chelsea Hotel where all of the artists of the day lived, even if they could afford their own place. Testimony to this is that the couple, as they sometimes were and other times just inseparable best friends, that when they could afford it, they took on two rooms opposite the hotel in which to work and sleep but still kept their room at the Chelsea, to use the bathroom if nothing else.

What their work was going to be was unknown up until they moved into the Chelsea, where the manager accepted residents who where penniless in exchange for art or other work. Robert always seemed destined to be an artist of some kind whereas Patti started with poetry, dabbled in art and acting before finally putting her words together with music.

There is a tinge of sadness throughout; poverty, heartbreak and deaths, most notably of Joni Mitchell, Jimmi Hendrix and Andy Warhol litter their lives when they finally join the much coveted membership to New York’s bohemian artsy scene they so craved. Patti surprisingly, especially in those times, stayed away from drugs and drinking and came out of this destructive yet hugely creative period of the 1970s relatively unscathed. She even went on to have two children with her late husband, Fred Sonic Smith whilst maintaining her beautiful friendship with Robert. They were true soul mates.

I just adore every moment of this beautiful book that is essentially about friendship.


Smile factor 9/10


From the jacket:

Just Kids starts as a love story and ends as a elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies, and to it’s 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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