Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book #7: Just Kids

Just KidsTitle: Just Kids
Author: Patti Smith

In contrast to A Visit from the Goon Squad, Patti Smith's Just Kids also takes place in and around the art and music scene in New York City, but it has all of the heart and soul that Egan's novel lacked. Smith writes about her years with Robert Mapplethorpe. The two came together on Patti's first day in New York, where she moved with about five bucks in her pocket after she placed a baby for adoption and quit her dead-end job in a New Jersey factory. When she arrived at the apartment where she thought her friends lived, Mapplethorpe answered the door. For the next decade, the two lived as soul mates, sometimes a romantic couple, sometimes not (Mapplethorpe eventually decided he preferred male sexual partners), and dedicated themselves to their art and to each other. It was a touching story of two young people who wanted to make their marks on the world and who genuinely cared for each other, and those two objectives occasionally came into conflict with each other. Smith writes in an early chapter about how they both struggled with their demons, but they were careful not to allow themselves to be "down" at the same time so they could be there for each other. Eventually, both found fame (Mapplethorpe as a photographer, Smith as a performance artist), Smith married and moved to Detroit, but they remained close until Mapplethorpe died of AIDS in 1989.

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