Punk pioneer Smith’s memoir recounts her creative and romantic relationship with the controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in 1960s and ’70s New York. Laura Miller writes that, “Although Just Kids is Smith’s tribute to Mapplethorpe, she’s the more arresting character of the pair” and that this is “a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism.” In a profile of Smith for New York, Vanessa Grigoriadis calls Just Kids “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.”
In Time Out New York, the wonderfully named Raven Snook says that “the two budding artists come off as incredibly creative and naive geeks who hit the Big Apple in the late ’60s” and that in addition to its other strengths, “Just Kids is also chock-full of amazing anecdotes starring the era’s glitterati—Andy Warhol and the Factory divas, William Burroughs, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Shepard, Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg. In the end, it’s not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York City’s ’70s art scene itself.” Naming the book one of the best of the month at Amazon, Tom Nissley writes that it’s “tender and artful, open-eyed but surprisingly decorous, with the oracular style familiar from her anthems like ‘Because the Night,’ ‘Gloria,’ and ‘Dancing Barefoot’ balanced by her powers of observation and memory for everyday details like the price of automat sandwiches and the shabby, welcoming fellow bohemians of the Chelsea Hotel, among whose ranks these baby Rimbauds found their way.”
Rolling Stone has an excerpt from the book.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
Ecco, 304 pp., $27.00