Just Kids

Lately, I’ve been super busy with real life (school, extracurriculars, and finding a job…) but I finally finished reading Just Kids by Patti Smith a month after I started it. I guess I’m kind of late in the game, because it came out in 2010 and won a whole bunch of awards thereafter. After reading Smith’s memoir of her special relationship with the late artist Robert Mapplethorpe, I can see why this piece won the 2010 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Her writing is simply beautiful. Here are my favorite snippets from various chapters:

Just Kids

“There were days, rainy gray days, when the streets of Brooklyn were worthy of a photograph, every window the lens of a Leica, the view grainy and immobile.”

“In my low periods, I wondered what was the point of creating art. For whom? Are we animating God? Are we talking to ourselves? And what was the ultimate goal? To have one’s work caged in art’s great zoos – the Modern, the Met, the Louvre?”

Hotel Chelsea

“‘It’s like drumming. If you miss a beat, you create another.'”

Separate Ways Together

“In the hellhole of Harar, he manned the coffee fields and scaled the high Abyssinian plateau on horseback. In the deep night he lay beneath a moon perfectly ringed, like a majestic eye that saw him and presided over his sleep.”

“Christ was a man worthy to rebel against, for he was rebellion himself.”

“It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.”

Holding Hands with God

“It took me far from the world I had known, yet Robert was ever in my consciousness; the blue star in the constellation of my personal cosmology.”

It’s easy to recognize Patti Smith as an artist in more ways than one – musician, visual artist, and poet. I enjoyed the colorful, lyrical, imaginative writing that transported me to the bohemian times of the 60’s and 70’s. Afterwards, I was curious enough to listen to Smith’s music and look through Mapplethorpe’s photos. Since photography is my chosen medium, I was naturally more drawn to the photos. Below are some that struck me the most (and are safe for work/I can share on this blog, haha):

Ajitto, 1981 (Source)

Thomas, 1987 (Source)

Orchids, 1989 (Source)

Calla Lily, 1984 (Source)

Have you read “Just Kids?” What similar books would you recommend?

P.S. Here’s how I’m currently doing on the Reading Challenge:


4 thoughts on “Just Kids

  1. ive been looking for just kids for ages but i never found it i think ill try obline book shopping!

    i just added 12 years a slave and 1984 to my unread book collection yesterday though. i have a lot of unread books yet i still bring in more and more. i guess i like the assurance of how there is something else to read next after a book is finished

    hope your book challenge goes well!



  2. Pingback: February ’15 in Review | It's JPei

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