Just Kids Book Summary - Just Kids Book explained in key points

Just Kids summary

Patti Smith

Brief summary

Just Kids is a memoir by Patti Smith that chronicles her deep and enduring friendship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It offers a raw and intimate look into their world in 1960s and 70s New York City, capturing the essence of their struggles and creative pursuits.

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    Just Kids
    Summary of key ideas

    Artistic Journey and Unbreakable Bond

    In Just Kids, Patti Smith takes us on a journey through her early adulthood, focusing on her relationship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. The book begins with Smith's arrival in New York City in the late 1960s, where she meets Mapplethorpe, and the two form an unbreakable bond. They are both struggling artists, living in poverty, but they are determined to make it in the city's vibrant art scene.

    Smith and Mapplethorpe's relationship is complex. They are lovers, roommates, and artistic collaborators. They support each other through thick and thin, sharing their dreams, fears, and aspirations. Mapplethorpe, in particular, is portrayed as a charismatic and enigmatic figure, whose artistic vision and ambition inspire Smith to pursue her own creative path.

    Artistic Awakening and Personal Struggles

    As they navigate the bohemian lifestyle of New York City, Smith and Mapplethorpe immerse themselves in the city's art and music scene. They befriend influential figures such as Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg, and Andy Warhol, and frequent iconic venues like the Chelsea Hotel and Max's Kansas City. This period of their lives is marked by artistic awakening, experimentation, and personal struggles.

    Smith delves into her own artistic journey, chronicling her evolution from a struggling poet to a celebrated musician. She also candidly discusses Mapplethorpe's exploration of his sexuality and his battle with the AIDS virus, which ultimately claimed his life. Their relationship, though tested by Mapplethorpe's changing sexual orientation, remains strong and unwavering.

    Success and Loss

    As the 1970s draw to a close, Smith and Mapplethorpe begin to achieve success in their respective fields. Smith's music career takes off with the release of her debut album, Horses, while Mapplethorpe gains recognition for his controversial yet influential photography. However, their triumphs are overshadowed by Mapplethorpe's deteriorating health.

    Smith's narrative becomes increasingly poignant as she describes Mapplethorpe's decline and eventual death from AIDS-related complications. She is by his side until the end, fulfilling the promise they made to each other as young, struggling artists. Mapplethorpe's passing leaves a profound void in Smith's life, but his spirit continues to inspire her.

    A Lasting Legacy

    In the final chapters of Just Kids, Smith reflects on her enduring bond with Mapplethorpe and the impact he had on her life and art. She pays tribute to his memory by preserving his work and legacy, ensuring that he is remembered as a groundbreaking artist and a beloved friend.

    Ultimately, Just Kids is a moving and intimate portrait of a unique relationship between two artists, as well as a vivid depiction of New York City's artistic community in the 1960s and 1970s. Smith's lyrical prose and heartfelt storytelling make this memoir a powerful exploration of love, loss, and the enduring power of art.

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    What is Just Kids about?

    'Just Kids,' a memoir by Patti Smith, chronicles her deep and formative relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Set in the vibrant art scene of 1960s and 1970s New York City, the book delves into their youthful dreams, struggles, and eventual success in the pursuit of artistic expression. It is a beautifully written tribute to their friendship and the bohemian spirit of that era.

    Just Kids Review

    Just Kids (2010) is a memoir by Patti Smith that takes us on a journey through her early years as an artist in New York City. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a compelling glimpse into the bohemian art scene of the 1960s and 70s, with vivid descriptions of the people and places that shaped Smith's career.
    • The book beautifully captures the intense friendship between Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, showcasing their profound bond and shared artistic aspirations.
    • With her honest and poetic prose, Smith paints a raw, heartfelt portrait of her journey towards self-discovery, making the book an emotional and inspiring read.

    Who should read Just Kids?

    • Individuals who are interested in the creative worlds of art and music
    • Readers who enjoy memoirs and personal stories
    • People who are drawn to tales of friendship, love, and artistic inspiration

    About the Author

    Patti Smith is a renowned musician, poet, and author. She emerged as a prominent figure in the 1970s New York City punk rock scene and has since made a significant impact on the music industry. Smith's memoir, Just Kids, provides a captivating account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and their artistic journey. Her other notable works include M Train and Devotion.

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    Just Kids FAQs 

    What is the main message of Just Kids?

    Just Kids is a memoir about the friendship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, exploring their artistic journey and the power of art and love.

    How long does it take to read Just Kids?

    The reading time for Just Kids varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Just Kids a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Just Kids is a captivating memoir that offers a unique insight into the artistic world of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Just Kids?

    The author of Just Kids is Patti Smith.

    How many chapters are in Just Kids?

    Just Kids has several chapters. Here is a list of some of them:

    1. Prologue
    2. Separation
    3. Through the Eyes of Frida Kahlo
    4. Differences
    5. The Chelsea Hotel
    6. Tristan and Isolde

    How many pages are in Just Kids?

    Just Kids contains 304 pages.

    When was Just Kids published?

    Just Kids was published in 2010.

    What to read after Just Kids?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Just Kids, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    • The Man Who Fed the World by Leon Hesser
    • Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
    • The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum