Synopses & Reviews
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max's Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous — the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists' ascent, a prelude to fame.
"In 1967, 21-year-old singer-songwriter Smith, determined to make art her life and dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities in Philadelphia to live this life, left her family behind for a new life in Brooklyn. When she discovered that the friends with whom she was to have lived had moved, she soon found herself homeless, jobless, and hungry. Through a series of events, she met a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe who changed her life — and in her typically lyrical and poignant manner Smith describes the start of a romance and lifelong friendship with this man: It was the summer Coltrane died. Flower children raised their arms... and Jimi Hendrix set his guitar in flames in Monterey. It was the summer of "Elvira Madigan", and the summer of love.... This beautifully crafted love letter to her friend (who died in 1989) functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by a passion for art and writing. Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York as she shares tales of the denizens of Max's Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner's, Brentano's, and Strand bookstores. In the lobby of the Chelsea, where she and Mapplethorpe lived for many years, she got to know William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Winter. Most affecting in this tender and tough memoir, however, is her deep love for Mapplethorpe and her abiding belief in his genius. Smith's elegant eulogy helps to explain the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpe's life and work."(Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.)
"Riveting and exquisitely crafted." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Poetically written and vividly remembered. [Smith] reminded me of the idealism of art.” Matthew Weiner, creator of MAD MEN, in New York magazine
“Captivating....a poignant requiem...and a radiant celebration of life.
“Smiths writing about her early days with Mapplethorpe is fervid and incantatory but never falls into incoherence.” The Oregonian (Portland)
“Funny, fascinating, oddly tender.” O, The Oprah Magazine
“A remarkable book --sweet and charming and many other words you wouldnt expect to apply to a punk-rock icon.” Newsday
“Just Kids shows how Smith integrated the romance of her twenty-year friendship with Mapplethorpe with her historical preoccupations, elevating them to an almost sacred status. The past, for Smith, has always driven her life forward. If only we could all be so free-spirited.” The Rumpus
“A shockingly beautiful book...a classic, a romance about becoming an artist in the city, written in a spare, simple style of boyhood memoirs like Frank Conroys ‘Stop Time.” New York Magazine
“A heartbreakingly sweet recollection of just that sort of vanished Bohemian life...Just as [Smith] stands out as an artiste in a movement based on collectivism, her singular voice gleams among rock memoirs as a work of literature.” Boston Globe
“[JUST KIDS] offers a revealing account of the fears and insecurities harbored by even the most incendiary artists, as well as their capacity for reverence and tenderness.” USA Today
“A touching tale of love and devotion.” Associated Press
“An utterly charming, captivating, intimate portrait of a late 1960s and early 1970s period of intense artistic ferment in downtown Manhattan significantly shaped and keenly observed by rock firebrand Smith.” Philadelphia Inquirer
“Composed of incandescent sentences more revelatory than anything from Patti Smiths poems or songs, her romantic memoir also reveals what blunt narrative instruments the earlier career bios of her and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe have been.” Village Voice, Best Books of 2010 Round-Up
“Deeply affecting...a vivid portrayal of a bygone New York that could support a countercultural artistic firmament...the power of this book comes from [Smiths] ability to recall lucid memories in straightforward prose.” BookForum
“To read JUST KIDS is to be struck by how powerfully the two, especially Smith, believed in the power of art....Despite her musics angry clamor, despite his sometimes revolting images, Smith and Mapplethorpe retain, in her telling, a primal, childlike innocence.” Dallas Morning News
“One of the best books ever written on becoming an artist...Jesus may have died for somebodys sins, but Patti Smith lives and writes and sings for all of us.” Washington Post
“One of the best things Ive ever read in my life.” Don Imus
“Reading rocker Smiths account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, its hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” People, Top 10 Books of 2010
“Terrifically evocative and splendidly titled...the most spellbinding and diverting portrait of funky-but-chic New York in the late 60s and early 70s that any alumnus has committed to print....This enchanting book is a reminder that not all youthful vainglory is silly; sometimes its preparation.” New York Times Book Review
“More than 30 years after its release, Horses still has the power to shock and inspire young musicians to express themselves with unbridled passion. Now she brings the same raw, lyrical quality to her first book of prose.” Clive Davis, Vanity Fair
“Patti Smiths memoir of her youth with Robert Mapplethorpe testifies to a rare and ferocious innocence...Just Kids is a book utterly lacking in irony or sophisticated cynicism.” Salon.com
“Remarkable, evocative... JUST KIDS is more than just a gift to [Smiths] ex-lover; its a gift to everyone who has ever been touched by their art, and to everyone whos ever been in love. Like the best of Smiths music and Mapplethorpes art, this book is haunting and unforgettable.” NPR Boston
“JUST KIDS describes [Smith and Mapplethorpes] ascent with a forthright sweetness that will ring true to anyone who knows her work.” Bloomberg.com
“[A] beautifully crafted love letter to [Robert Mapplethorpe]...Smith transports readers to what seemed like halcyon days for art and artists in New York...[a] tender and tough memoir...[an] elegant eulogy.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A spellbinding portrait of bohemian New York in the late 1960s and early ‘70s.” New York Times Book Review, Paperback Row
“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... beautifully crafted, vivid, and indelible.” Booklist
“[Just Kids] reminds us that innocence, utopian ideals, beauty and revolt are enlightenments guiding stars in the human journey. Her book recalls, without blinking or faltering, a collective memory one that guides us through the present and into the future.” Michael Stipe, Time magazine
“Smiths beautifully crafted love letter to her friend Robert Mapplethorpe functions as a memento mori of a relationship fueled by passion for art and writing. Her elegant eulogy lays bare the chaos and the creativity so embedded in that earlier time and in Mapplethorpes life and work.” Publishers Weekly, Top Ten Books of the Year
“Sometimes there is justice in the world. That was my first thought when I heard that Patti Smith had won the National Book Award this fall for her glorious memoir, Just Kids.” Maureen Corrigan's favorite books of 2010, NPR's Fresh Air
“[JUST KIDS] is funny and sad but always exhilarating.” Tampa Tribune
” A story of art, identity, devotion, discovery, and love, the book is [Smiths] first prose work...[it] conjures up the passionate collaboration--as lovers, friends, soul mates, and creators--that she and Mapplethorpe embarked on from the summer they met in Brooklyn in 1967.” Elle
“The most enchantingly evocative memoir of funky-but-chic New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s that any alumnus has yet committed to print.” Janet Maslin's top 10 books of 2010, New York Times
“Astonishing on many levels, most notably for Smiths lapidary prose....[JUST KIDS] is simply one of the best memoirs to be published in recent years: inspiring, sad, wise and beautifully written.” San Francisco Chronicle
“In the end, [JUST KIDS is] not just an ode to Mapplethorpe, but a love letter to New York Citys ‘70s art scene itself.” Time Out New York
“A moving portrait of the artist as a young woman, and a vibrant profile of Smiths onetime boyfriend and lifelong muse, Robert Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989...JUST KIDS is ultimately a wonderful portal into the dawn of Smiths art.” Los Angeles Times
“The most compelling memoir by a rock artist since Bob Dylans ‘Chronicles: Volume One, written with intimacy and grace....” Chicago Tribune
“Patti Smiths telling of the years she spent with Robert Mapplethorpe is full of optimism sprinkled with humor...JUST KIDS...is sorely lacking in irony or cynicism; Smiths worldview is infectious. Shes a jumble of influences, but thats part of her charm.” Austin American-Statesman
“Smith lovingly depicts the denizens of the Chelsea Hotel - is that Janis Joplin at the bar? - and the rock club CBGB, all the while pondering how to be an uncompromising artist who nonetheless needs to pay the rent.” Boston Globe
"Ingeniously conceived and believable… DErasmo is a gifted and skillful writer."
—Lionel Shriver, The New York Times Book Review
"Stacey D'Erasmo's exquisite Wonderland...succeeds, not through bombast but with beautifully measured, understated writing and meticulous characterization...Wonderland's narrator, Anna Brundage, is so beautifully realized that I wanted to download her music on iTunes... a striking evocation of the artist's quest"
—Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
"Briskly addictive. . . Some sentences dance like wind chimes in a hurricane; others evanesce. . . D'Erasmo expertly conjures the seductive uncharted space that lures the sculptor, the musician..."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Dreamy... [with] finely tuned prose… Given the book's sensual imagery and magnetic heroine, it's hard not to wonder what Anna would sound like—I pegged her as some combination of Björk, Florence and the Machine, and Janis Joplin."
“Her story reads like an unusually lucid travel journal...In Brundage, DErasmo has created a wry, questioning, sensual artist.”
—The New Yorker
“heartbreakingly intense…[a] dramatically satisfying, philosophically complex novel.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
"D'Erasmo's writing exhibits a life-and-death intimacy that grabs at us"
"[A] questing, questioning, melodic narrative…Sentence by sentence, Stacey DErasmo is a gorgeous writer...[with] a vibrant, idiosyncratic voice"
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“the prose constantly achieves the magic trick of seeming both weightless and grounded...an evocative exploration of universal themes: the anxieties of middle age, the bittersweet freedom of the creative life, the burden of the legacy a daughter inherits from her father.”
"A cool, dreamy read, by turns drug-fueled, anxious, touched by grief, blistering with the heat of survival instinct…delicious"
—Black Heart Magazine
"DErasmo gives us an inside look at a world most of us will never experience. As Anna strives for perfection in her music, you get the feeling she might just make it."
"[WONDERLAND] delicately melts together a captivating story, artistic language and meaningful imagery."
—NeuralPop “As Robert Mapplethorpe told Patti Smith, this one, Wonderland has the magic.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
"A must read for any up and coming artist to grizzled veteran."
—Femmusic “[DErasmo] combines the delightful worlds of literature and music while bringing out the best in both mediums…a rich and exquisitely crafted novel.”
"A spellbinding look into the protagonists being... meticulously crafted ... Days and shows pass, but within this routine, a transformation slowly creeps into the narrative: that of commitment, and, perhaps, hope for the future."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
"Anna is an irresistible narrator. DErasmo brings us inside the music and the musicians psyche in this transfixing song of a self evolving through discovery, loss, and renewal."
— Booklist, STARRED
"[DErasmo writes] artfully and insightfully, giving Brundage a no-nonsense, road-worn tone that leaves equal room for pathos and humor... DErasmo is particularly good at capturing the randomness and joy of the creative process.. thoughtfully addresses aging, art and relationships."
"Like Anna, her unforgettable narrator, Stacey D'Erasmo has found a new sound here: a voice so gorgeous and raw that it captures what it means to be human. D'Erasmo's prose is lyrical and alive—this is a vital, powerful novel—and Wonderland will strike a chord with anyone who's ever dreamed of getting a second chance."
—Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them
"There's a lot in this book that those of us who've lived the music life will recognize: the eroticized grind of life on the road; the hothouse environment of the recording studio; the weird state of in-between that defines provisional rock and roll fame. But what's best about Wonderland is its portrait of a creative spirit. When Anna Brundage is in the zone, she pulls songs from the air; she showers her fans and collaborators in pain and beauty. Wonderland's insight into how a woman inhabits, feeds, and sometimes undoes her own artistry is rare and profound."
—Ann Powers, music critic, co-author of Piece by Piece (with Tori Amos), and author of Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America
"The world of Wonderland is authentic, vibrant, and genuine. Stacey DErasmo explores the delight and terror of second chances. A great read!"
"Wonderland is a witty and unflinching novel about life, love, art and sound checks. A deep howl and a bittersweet song, this is D'Erasmo's best yet."
—Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask, Home Land, and others
"In Are You My Mother?
, Alison Bechdel poses an infinity of thought-provoking questions about women, literature, feminism, family bonds, psychology and the complicated relationship between therapist and patient...The book is a page turner, thanks in part to Bechdel's lovely and subtle illustrations. Bechdel's examination of her relationship with her mother also touches on the universal push and pull between mothers and children...The book's transcendent ending is Bechdel's expression of love for her own 'good enough mother.'"and#8212;USA Today
"Sad, funny, sprawling graphic memoir...An intensely personal, specific story, but Bechdel's imaginative narrative techniques make it easily as compelling as any fiction...Its stylistic flexibility accomodates more layers than any straight documentary or prose memoir could support...This work is her link in the long chain connecting her foremothers and their daughters and all of the other women who shaped her."and#8212;The Atlantic
"A staggering achievement...Although Bechdel utilizes all the features of the graphic-novel form, she is so intelligent and perceptive that this story of self-discovery (an abused term, but never more apt) would still be compelling if told only in prose...Are You My Mother? is a masterwork that gracefully documents the torture that sensitive people can put themselves through while searching for the casual movers of their lives."and#8212;The Daily Beast
"Are You My Mother? is a tremendously intimate work, more so even than Fun Home. Taken together, the two books are a practical guide to the complicated, unspoken negotiations that take place between children and their parents, those sphinxlike beings who give us life and then promptly deal us near fatal psychic wounds.Watching Bechdel dig into the underworld of her subconscious is paradoxically uplifting. The courage and rigor with which she examines her life make readers feel as if their own secrets might not be quite so unspeakable."and#8212;Lev Grossman, Time Magazine
"...Magnificent... Whatever issues Bechdel has with her mother, one always has the sense that she likes her as much as she loves her. That affection and#8212; and the real sense one gets of her mother reading these pages, running her finger over the tenderly drawn panels of their history and#8212; gives this book an urgency and an intimacy that Fun Home, in retrospect, lacked... Bechdel's triumph is not just that she's emerged from her tunnel, with weary but clear eyes, but that she's brought her mother with her.
Smith's evocative, honest, and moving coming-of-age story reveals her extraordinary relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Part romance, part elegy, Just Kids
is about friendship in the truest sense, and the artist's calling.
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.
Before she was a world-renowned singer-songwriter and dubbed "The Godmother of Punk," Patti Smith was a struggling poet posing for the lens of photographer Judy Linn. In intimate portraits of an artist as a young woman, Linn captures Smith at her most vulnerable, as a raw performer on the verge of becoming an iconic artist. Linn's photographs offer a fascinating document of Smith's maturation into one of the most influential women of her generation while also spotlighting her close relationships with other artists, including Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Shepard. This book captures a moment lost in time, when a poet experimenting with music crossed paths with a young artist experimenting with photography. A must-have for anyone interested in the evolution of an artist, Patti Smith 1969-1976 showcases the collaboration between Smith and Linn that rewrote the definition of what it means to be a woman and an artist.
This breakout novel from a brilliant stylist—dropping us into the life a female rock star—centers on that moment when we decide whether to go all-in or give up our dreams
Anna Brundage is a rock star. She is tall and sexy, with a powerhouse voice and an unforgettable mane of red hair. She came out of nowhere, an immediate indie sensation. And then, life happened.
Anna went down as fast as she went up, and then walked off the scene for seven years. Without a record deal or clamoring fans, she sells a piece of her famous fathers art to finance just one more album and a European comeback tour.
Anna is forty-four. This may be her last chance to cement her place in the life she chose, the life she struggled for, the life shes not sure she can sustain. She falls back easily into the ways of the road—sex with strangers, the search for the perfect moment onstage. To see Anna perform is something—watch her find the note, the electric connection with the audience, the transcendence when it all comes together and the music seems to fill the world.
A riveting look at the life of a musician, Wonderland is a moving inquiry into the life of a woman on an unconventional path, wondering what happens next and what her passions might have cost her, seeking a version of herself she might recognize. It takes us deep into a world many of us have spent hours imagining and wishing ourselves into—now we have a bit of that wish come true.
From the best-selling author of Fun Home,and#160;Time magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year, a poignant and hilariousand#160; graphic memoir ofand#160;Alison Bechdeland#160;becoming the artist her giftedand#160;mother alwaysand#160;wanted to be
From the best-selling author of Fun Home
magazineand#8217;s No. 1 Book of the Year, a brilliantly told graphic memoir of Alison Bechdel becoming the artist her mother wanted to be.
Alison Bechdeland#8217;s Fun Home was a pop culture and literary phenomenon. Now, a second thrilling tale of filial sleuthery, this time about her mother: voracious reader, music lover, passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a closeted gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel's childhood . . . and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter good night, forever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf. It's a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of the iconic twentieth-century psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, to one explosively illuminating Dr. Seuss illustration, to Bechdeland#8217;s own (serially monogamous) adult love life. And, finally, back to Motherand#8212;to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.
About the Author
Patti Smith is a writer, artist, and performer. Her seminal album Horses was followed by nine releases, including Radio Ethiopia; Easter; Dream of Life; Gone Again; and Trampin'. Her artwork was first exhibited at Gotham Book Mart in 1973, and she has been associated with the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. Strange Messenger, a retrospective of three hundred works, made its debut at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and has been exhibited worldwide.