Book Review #84 – Just Kids, by Patti Smith

Hello dears!

I wrote this review when I was still crammed up with school but I never got around to post it. My next reviews on the titles I’ve been reading since April are  probably going to be shorter than this one but I hope you still enjoy them!

Today’s review is on Just Kids, by Patti Smith.

Get this book from Book Depository

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I only knew Patti Smith by name. I knew that she’s mostly known for her work in music and that’s it. This book was given to me by a friend who wanted to get me something I wouldn’t probably pick on my own. Although most my friends are obsessed with Smith, I never would even think of reading this book. I’m so glad I did though!

This is a non-fiction book based on Smith and her early days, focusing more on her relationship with now known photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe.

I’ve known Mapplethorpe for a while. His work was often showed to me as an art student in high school. The controversy and the way he photographed subjects often considered taboo were case studies. I was never really too much into the photos but I always found them thought provoking.

The person that Smith talks about in this book was not who I expected. I had a completely wrong impression of Mapplethorpe. He seemed like a beautiful, artistic and kind soul. It was very interesting to know not only about his work but also himself. That is, of course, the part that most stands out of this book: the way Patti Smith saw Robert Mapplethorpe. Their friendship and love was something really beautiful. I could only wish that someday I could feel this way for somebody, and the other way around. It’s so fascinating how these two people changed so much over the years, but how important they always were to each other.

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I absolutely feel in love with the author’s style. It’s so poetic and beautiful. Every sentence is carefully constructed and, although it’s a non-fiction book, it had the flourish and the magic of fiction writing. I also loved the voice she adopted for the story. Her tone is very unapologetic and incredibly honest. She isn’t preoccupied in hiding the bad moments of her early life because she isn’t ashamed of that. Listening to a woman talk about an early (and unwanted) pregnancy or what’s like to discover your lover is actually homosexual with such ease and honesty, was really really refreshing and beautiful.

I also loved to hear about New York in the 60’s. I’m not sure to which extent this or any other portrait of New York during an important era are romanticised but it all seemed beautiful. Artists were everywhere around the city and I found very interesting to see how kind they all seemed and how they inspired Smith in any way. And she worked in so many bookstores! Ah, what a lovely thing!

Even in the most happy passages, there’s this feeling of sadness throughout the book. But don’t get me wrong, there’s really funny moments as well! The thing is, the tone of the book is so nostalgic, of both Robert and that time, that you can’t help but feel a bit sad while reading it. This really appealed to my true portuguese side, we love nostalgia!

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I really loved this book. I went in knowing what to expect and it blew is completely away. It’s beautiful and so different from my normal reads. I guess this is not a book for everyone but if you love amazingly written books, and memoirs of love and art, this is a must book for you! Even if you don’t know Smith or Mapplethorpe’s work.

Here’s one of the many, many beautiful quotes:

Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.

Have any of you read this title? Or any Patti Smith’s fans out there? Please let me know!

See you next time,

Cat.

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