just kids

i'm not even going to try and hide my love and admiration for patti smith. it's a pretty well known fact that i revere this woman. i can remember hearing her for the first time. i think my roommate, joe, had put horses on matt's computer and i inadvertently came across it one day, listening to itunes on random while cleaning the house.

so i spent the day listening to horses on repeat; eventually i moved onto her other albums. i learned that she was a poet and artist. i dragged matt to see patti smith: dream of life. since then, i have memorized her discography and often hold patti smith themed days, where i put on my best over-sized white shirt and black pegged pants and recite william blake all day long. and now that i've finished reading her latest book, just kids, i don't even know what to do with myself; i'm even more enraptured with her.

just kids is smith's entrancing recount of her relationship with robert mapplethorpe and their co-evolution into successful artists. and if this rather haunting story of friendship isn't enough, smith's memoir is also a genuine taste of the burgeoning arts scene in new york city, during the late 1960's through to the early eighties. as you read, smith and mapplethorpe, who met on the streets of new york, barely adults, blossom from struggling, tentative amateurs into tenacious, skilled artists while bumping into jimi hendrix, babysitting janis joplin and hanging out with william burroughs.

what i loved most about this book, was smith's flawless style. she is a master of words and tells her story with simplicity and tenderness. this book is so full of love and admiration, it's like every word was carefully birthed out of smith's commitment to mapplethorpe and vice-versa. i loved it and that's my totally biased opinion but apparently i'm not the only one who appreciated its greatness, just kids won last year's national book award, which is sort of a big deal.

regardless of how you feel about smith as a musician, she is a writer first and foremost and just kids is arguably one of her best pieces of work. it's a fascinating portrait of an artist* and the apotheosis of a relationship created by destiny, with new york city at a cultural peak as its backdrop. it's a wonderful universe that few of us will ever get to experience but smith successfully recreates the experience for you here.

sure, it's the first and only book that i've read in 2011 but i'm already calling it a favorite read of this year. i feel bad for the books to follow, they have a lot of live up to.

*sorry, i couldn't help myself.

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