Saturday, June 5, 2010

JUST KIDS - Patti Smith

This is Patti Smith's memoir of her friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

They meet as struggling 20 year old's in New York and set up house together in various locations, including the famous Chelsea Hotel.

They then go onto find success in their respective artistic endeavours. Smith as a poet and Mapplethorpe as an artist. Then Mapplethorpe contracts AIDS and dies as a 42 year old. Smith carries on and is presently releasing some of her best music as a 63 year old and counting.

The book is set between 1968 and 1980 with a introduction and closing chapter set around the death of Mapplethorpe.

She tells about the scene in New York in the early 70's and the rise of what would become the punk scene there as it concerned her and running parallel with this is Mapplethorpe's route to fame, which was sped up by his mentor and lover Sam Wagstaff.

This is more Smith's story obviously but for a 10 year period their two lives were totally entwined so there justification in her calling the book their story- the story of two 20 year old's forging their way in the world.

Its an interesting read, especially concerning the New York music scene. It reads like a monologue,( the third chapter runs 122 pages) it might be me but it has a talked to tape feel about it and then transcribed. This isn't a negative just the feel of the book.

There is a very good biography on Mapplethorpe- Mapplethorpe by Patricia Morrisroe- published in 1995 which is an excellent companion to this book.

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