As I sit here with the newly finished “Just Kids” next me, it’s hard to even put into actual words my reaction to this book. I will preface this by saying that my Patti Smith knowledge is limited. I read “M Train” last year after it was one of the Our Shared Shelf recommendations and I loved the writing style. Haunting, simple, melodic and full of imagery and beauty as well as sadness and reality. I decided that I needed to then get more Patti Smith in my life. Many of you probably know her music (“Because the Night” was her biggest hit and was co-written with Bruce Springsteen).
“Just Kids” is an ode to artists who create because they need to, feel compelled to and have it in them to make something meaningful. Patti recounts her young life, moving to New York after dropping out of college and meeting Robert Mapplethorpe. The two of hem have this incredible bond that goes beyond love to reach into the depths of who they are and also the influence that they have on one another regarding who they would become. They move up in the art scene at an incredibly explosive time and Patti integrates the history of what was going on in the world during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s as well as her meetings with other significant artists at the time like Janis Joplin, Andy Warhol, and Jimi Hendrix. She is now knowns as the Grandmother of Punk but Patti Smith embodies so much more than that and has transcended into an icon of fashion, feminism and journalism.
The story is tinged with tragedy and loss, victories and failures and Patti strips it all down to show the reality of what it is to live and breathe your art at that time. Goosebumps, just goosebumps all over for how beautiful this book is. If you’re looking for a gritty truth about the art scene and the creation of subversive art and all that entails, pick this up. You won’t regret it.