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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Nonfiction, 2010

Winner of the 2010 Non-Fiction National Book Award Patti Smith’s evocative, honest and moving coming-of-age story of her extraordinary relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe

A prelude to fame, Just Kids recounts the friendship of two young artists--Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe – whose passion fueled their lifelong pursuit of art.

In 1967, a chance meeting between two young people led to a romance and a lifelong friendship that would carry each to international success never dreamed of. The backdrop is Brooklyn, Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City, Scribner’s Bookstore, Coney Island, Warhol’s Factory and the whole city resplendent. Among their friends, literary lights, musicians and artists such as Harry Smith, Bobby Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, Sandy Daley, Sam Shepherd, William Burroughs, etc. It was a heightened time politically and culturally; the art and music worlds exploding and colliding. In the midst of all this two kids made a pact to always care for one another. Scrappy, romantic, committed to making art, they prodded and provided each other with faith and confidence during the hungry years--the days of cous-cous and lettuce soup.

Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. Beautifully written, this is a profound portrait of two young artists, often hungry, sated only by art and experience. And an unforgettable portrait of New York, her rich and poor, hustlers and hellions, those who made it and those whose memory lingers near.

©2010 Patti Smith (P)2011 Patti Smith

What listeners say about Just Kids

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So much more than Just Kids

As Robert said Patti is the only one who could tell this story and do it any kind of justice. To hear Patti tell me the story of her and Roberts love and life together, in her own words & voice is a privilege.

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A love letter to art and to A beautiful friendship.

An incredible read. Brings back the wonder end of youth and the beauty of art and young love. Patti Smith is a writer like no other. Just so beautiful.

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Moving and beautiful

Hearing Patti recite her inspiring adventures with Robert is overwhelming. An incredible and moving experience.

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Just a beautiful story

This story told and narrated by Patti Smith is so beautiful.. it is raw and real and tells the truth of what is at the heart of being human and how humans who are living life their way, not bothered by peer pressure and rules can fall into and experience real deep love, life that seems to fall into place, and synchronicity that occurs from the power of just being true to oneself. This story is an Important one, not just for Robert Maplethorpe and Patti but for all of us, it will touch your heart. They have both experienced a human relationship that probably most humans have never experienced.. how fortunate they are! Thank you Patti, this work is a real gift to humanity. Hearing Patti read makes the story even better, she is a true story-teller!

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Momentously, evidently; and above all, brilliant.

The story of patti and Robert inspired me so much, I could not possibly think of a better book to read. I could not possibly think of a better story to tell. I could not think of a better journey of love to express. 10/10. Absolutely beautiful.

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An intimate portrait of two amazing artists

Written with such honesty and being read by the author makes it even more compelling.

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Loved it!

Amazing and poetic self biography and testimony of Smith and Mapplethorpe and a period of time and culture.

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wonderful

Just Kids is my first audible book. You will be a hard act to follow Patti. Beautifully written and narrated.

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Felt like I was there

Such a touching story that was told with love and honesty that brought the reader closer than expected.

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I cried, anyway.

Such a strong evocation of a time and a city now lost to us all.

You might not know Robert Maplthorpe or Patti Smith, but this is a 20th century love story, woven through the nievity of youth, in a time when art seemed to matter more than money. The romance of the poor artists, the power of their rich patrons and a young woman's struggle to find an individual voice away from the safety of home and family are all richly set out in this well told tale.

And the inevitable sadness of the story brings the reader a real sense of loss, but hope. I cried, anyway.

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  • Michelle
  • 21-09-2011

Pure gold.

This audio book had me spellbound. I was transported - lost in the world of Patti and Robert, New York City, 1960's and was oblivious to everyone and everything around me. I hung off every word, and 'couldn't put it down'. If you admire the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and/or Patti Smith you will love this book like I did. But I think even if you have never heard of either of them, you will love it. It stands alone as a love story, a life story, beautifully crafted. That Patti Smith herself has narrated the book makes the audio book even better than reading it visually would be. Her voice adds to the magic. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

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  • Kate
  • 21-08-2012

Great!

I've been a fan of Patti Smith's music for years, but initially hesitated to listen to this book because I thought it might be mainly about the relationship between two people, one of whom died tragically young, and therefore a bit depressing. I'm so glad I did listen to it, because it's very much a portrait of a time and place (the late 1960s and the 1970s in New York). It is also about the relationship between Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe, which is handled in a delicate and not at all maudlin way. I gained a lot of insight into all of the participants and their artistic milieu, making me curious to know more about some aspects of the latter, even though I'd already read a fair bit about the topic. The book is read very well by Patti Smith in her distinctive way, which somehow manages to combine directness and deceptive simplicity with emotional complexity and surprising ideas, just like her music. This is a well-crafted and sensitive book that impresses me with Patti Smith's writing.

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  • Mathabatha
  • 27-08-2019

This is love

In so many words, events, creations, lives, places, people, songs and memories. This is love.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-2019

Already loved both Robert and Patti

and this made me love them more than before, with extra insight into how they were when they worked and into their dynamic as people

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  • Liam K
  • 04-09-2017

Incredible, beautiful book

I highly recommend this book! The fact that it is read by Patti Smith makes it even that much more powerful!

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  • malcolm larri
  • 26-04-2017

So beautiful

I didn't want it to end...magical and engaging and Patti's voice is hypnotic.

Moving straight on to her next book

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  • Lisa
  • 22-08-2016

Patti Smith reading is pure gold

This is by far one of the most precious audio book experiences that I've ever had.

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  • Neil Taylor
  • 28-11-2015

Beautiful, sorrowful, heartfelt

Any additional comments?

Patti Smith is a woman who has always taken her art and her writing seriously, so it was no surprise that Just Kids should be such a finely-crafted work. A beautiful, yet sorrowful elegy for a youth of dreams, ideals, hardship and loss. Patti's own voice is probably the ideal medium to tell the story of her life with, and without, Robert Mapplethorpe, though at times her mournful delivery can overshadow moments that in print at least, may have been more uplifting.

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  • Les Ross
  • 17-06-2015

drawl-ings

If you could sum up Just Kids in three words, what would they be?

Very Good Indeed

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not really applicable as it's a memoir. Possibly 'the period' is the best character.

Have you listened to any of Patti Smith’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened to any other of her performances. I listened to this book for the insight to Robert Mapplethorpe. Discovering Patti Smith along the way was an outstanding bonus. I'll certainly read any other memoirs she brings to the market.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Excellent. Unequivocally so.

Any additional comments?

None

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  • jennifer
  • 20-08-2012

Artist Tribe

What made the experience of listening to Just Kids the most enjoyable?

Having Patti Smith narrate it

What did you like best about this story?

It re-connected me to my path as an Artist. It made me long for creativity and self-expression in a way that is poetic and meaningful. One of the most inspiring stories I've read/listened to for living a unique and self-directed life.

Which character – as performed by Patti Smith – was your favorite?

Patti's

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Free Soul

Any additional comments?

Patti is an amazing storyteller with a unique voice, as unique as her life story and the characters that are a part of it. She is a wise and intuitive woman and her tale is deep and poetic.

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