Presenter of the National Book Awards

2010 National Book Award Winner,
Nonfiction

Patti Smith

Just Kids

Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers


ABOUT THE BOOK

In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies. An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock. Her seminal album Horses, bearing Robert Mapplethorpe’s renowned photograph, has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. She has recorded twelve albums.

Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. Her books include Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence.

In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor awarded to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Smith married the late Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse. Smith resides in New York City.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Patti Smith's website
www.pattismith.net/

'Just Kids': Punk Icon Patti Smith Looks Back
Fresh Air from WHYY
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122722618

Patti Smith reading from 'Just Kids', performing 'Because The Night
Punk-poet Patti Smith reads from her new book 'Just Kids' at Foyles, Southbank, before performing 'Because The Night'
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZNBfST5tQM


EXCERPT

From “Hotel Chelsea” in Just Kids by Patti Smith

I’m in Mike Hammer mode, puffing on Kools reading cheap detective novels sitting in the lobby waiting for William Burroughs. He comes in dressed to the nines in a dark gabardine overcoat, gray suit, and tie. I sit for a few hours at my post scribbling poems. He comes stumbling out of the El Quixote a bit drunk and disheveled. I straighten his tie and hail him a cab. It’s our unspoken routine.

In between I clock the action. Eyeing the traffic circulating the lobby hung with bad art. Big invasive stuff unloaded on Stanley Bard in exchange for rent. The hotel is an energetic, desperate haven for scores of gifted hustling children from every rung of the ladder. Guitar bums and stoned-out beauties in Victorian dresses. Junkie poets, playwrights, broke-down filmmakers, and French actors. Everybody passing through here is somebody, if nobody in the outside world.

The elevator is slowgoing. I get off at the seventh floor to see if Harry Smith is around. I place my hand on the doorknob, sensing nothing but silence. The yellow walls have an institutional feel like a middle school prison. I use the stairs and return to our room. I take a piss in the hall bathroom we share with unknown inmates. I unlock our door. No sign of Robert save a note on the mirror. Went to big 42nd street. Love you. Blue. I see he straightened his stuff. Men’s magazines neatly piled. The chicken wire rolled and tied and the spray cans lined in a row under the sink.

I fire up the hot plate. Get some water from the tap. You got to let it run for a while as it comes out brown. It’s just minerals and rust, so Harry says. My stuff is in the bottom drawer. Tarot cards, silk ribbons, a jar of Nescafé, and my own cup—a childhood relic with the likeness of Uncle Wiggly, rabbit gentleman. I drag my Remington from under the bed, adjust the ribbon, and insert a fresh sheet of foolscap. There’s a lot to report.

From “Hotel Chelsea” in Just Kids by Patti Smith