Brief book review: Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith is a love story, a rags-to-riches tale and a memoir of a certain time and place all rolled into one.

When Patti Smith got off the bus in New York City almost the first person she met was a beautiful boy with a mass of curls.  Not long afterward she was on a date with an older man and trying to find a way to escape.   She spied the boy with the curls walking toward her and she ran up to him and asked him if he would pretend to be her boyfriend.

He said yes, and thus began the relationship of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe.  They were not quite starving artists but they slept in unheated lofts and had to share a hot dog at Coney Island  because they didn’t have the money to buy two.

They had talent, but more than that they had ambition and focus.  They also had each other.  They were each other’s best friend who believed in and supported each other at a time when they had no other friends and no one one else believed in them.

Soon however they did have friends.  They began to make their way in the art world, and the world of rock and roll.   They found  other artists and supporters who were kindred spirits.  The best part of the  book are the many tales of the denizens of the Chelsea Hotel, Max’s Kansas City and the East Village scene of the 70’s.  Some of them are household names and others are lost to history but Patti writes about all of them in the same breathless admiring style.

Eventually Patti and Robert went their own ways and achieved their own successes but they remained friends and supporters until Robert’s death in 1989.

This book also has many interesting photos, some taken by Robert Mapplethorpe.