“Where does it all lead? What will become of us? These were our young questions, and young answers were revealed. It leads to each other. We become ourselves.”—Patti Smith
Patti Smith’s Just Kids is a provocative valentine to her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe and to the city, New York, that shaped them. The writing portrays a kind of generosity that can only come from a struggle with grief and the ultimate acceptance of a great loss. Smith paints her life with Mapplethorpe with a faith in love and in art—and it is their dedication to such a life that is truly inspiring. To have such faith in what you do is just plain infectious.
Smith unlocks memories of a New York that, although waning economically, is alive with the ideas of creative pioneers and rebels. A place where you might spend an entire afternoon with like-minded souls in the weathered light of the El Quijote bar at the Chelsea Hotel, then head out into the night dressed like you dare to dream. You may not know where or how, but you are ready for exactly what the city is willing to give you, and if you pay attention to the signs, those gifts can become miracles. Believing in the possibility of where those miracles might lead you is what this book is all about.
To see where it all might end up and what we might become may be a young person’s pursuit, but the freedom that goes along with such a quest is important to remember at any point in one’s life. Just Kids gave me back some fading pieces of myself, and to reconnect with something lost is one of the most potent rewards of reading a memoir. This book will stay with me for a very long time. I am grateful to Just Kids, as it has given me a chance to revisit the city that has had so much to do with crafting my own creative life. So thank you, Patti Smith, for your promise to Robert to tell your story, and for your willingness to share a fierce faith in the power of love and art.
–Laura Williams, Assistant to the Art Director