Just Kids, By Patti Smith

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The Independent Culture

At first, wary of boho chic, I resisted Patti Smith's memoir of her New York years with Robert Mapplethorpe, "the artist of my life". How dumb. For this is a modern classic that generations of readers will cherish as a friend. "Who can know the heart of youth but youth itself?" asks the writer-musician as she traces the love that – first physical, then (there is no other word) spiritual – bound the skinny ragamuffin aesthete to the Catholic-raised ex-cadet on their adventures in art.

Many stars swing through this low-rent, high-minded firmament, from Factory to Chelsea to CBGBs: Warhol, Reed, Joplin, Hendrix, Burroughs, Ginsberg... Yet the pair's devotion, until his death in 1989, to each other and to their visions lights up every tender, glowing page.