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Book Recommendation: Just Kids by Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s Just Kids is a charming poetic masterpiece which captures what life was like living in New York City and the Chelsea Hotel during the late sixties and seventies.  This was a time of extraordinary music and events that would define the era: the Manson family murders, the Vietnam War, Woodstock and Andy Warhol, to name a few.  The biography is about the journey of Smith’s everlasting bond with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Together they were inseparable. 

Smith shares her perspective on her life, from her time as a clerk at Scribner’s bookstore to becoming a well-known musician who would eventually be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Mapplethorpe was an aspiring artist who had a quixotic view on life. Smith tells a resplendent story of how they were always there for one another through thick and thin. They lived together for several years, and although they had little money, they would sacrifice anything to make each other happy. They would inspire each other to fulfill their individual and mutual dreams. The story illustrates the music, art, and culture of the 60s and 70s. Patti shares her experiences with artistic legends, such as guitar poet Jimi Hendrix, rock and blues singer-songwriter Janis Joplin, and Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.

When Robert begins to come to terms with his sexuality, acknowledging his affection for men, Patti is there supporting him every step of the way. Smith states, “Robert and I still kept our vows. Neither would leave the other. I never saw him through the lens of his sexuality. My picture of him remained intact. He was the artist of my life.” She knows that Robert will forever love her as she does him. She knows he will forever be the ambitious, passionate, and caring boy she met when she first arrived in Brooklyn in 1967.

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