Patti Smith National Book Award Winner for NonFiction

Just Kids / Patti Smith

Patti Smith devotees know that she writes electrifying songs and spirited and spiritual poems, yet her first narrative book, a portrait of the artist as a young searcher times two, is a revelation. In a spellbinding memoir as notable for its restraint as for its lucidity, its wit as well as its grace, Smith tells the story of how she and Robert Mapplethorpe found each other, a true and abiding love that survived his coming out as gay, and the path to art in New York City during the heady late 1960s and early 1970s. Smith promised the controversial photographer that she would tell their story as he faced death in 1989 and then weathered more tragedies as she lost her husband and brother. Consequently, Smith brings the piercing clarity born of pain and renewal to this at once matter-of-fact and fairy tale–like chronicle of two romantics living hand-to-mouth as disciples to art. As much as she succeeds in revealing little-known aspects of Mapplethorpe’s temperament, it is Smith herself who fascinates, from her earliest childhood memories of entering “into the radiance of imagination”; to her stints as a factory worker; to the loneliness of being 19, unmarried, poor, and pregnant; to her fortitude during her penniless and homeless days and nights on the streets of New York in 1967. A lifelong book lover, Smith works in Scribner’s bookstore as she and Mapplethorpe seek their true callings while living in the now legendary Chelsea Hotel, a crazy laboratory for experimentation artistic and otherwise. With appearances by Janis Joplin, Allen Ginsberg, Sam Shepard, Johnny Winter, and many other intriguing and influential figures, Smith covers a remarkable swath of cultural and personal history in this beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible look back. Readers can only hope that Smith will continue to tell her stories and share her visions.   Booklist


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One thought on “Patti Smith National Book Award Winner for NonFiction

  1. I am really enjoying this book! It brings back so many memories of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Even liking the same music and authors!

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