Patti Smith is to turn Just Kids, her widely-admired memoir on her friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, into a television series.
The memoir of Seventies New York was based on the friendship of the two young Brooklyn flatmates as they struggled to get recognition for their art.
The punk icon issued a statement expressing her hopes that the television series would add a further dimension to the written story. “It will allow us to explore the characters more deeply, enabling us to develop stories beyond the book and allow a measure of unorthodox presentation,” she said. “The medium of a television limited series offers narrative freedom and a chance to expand upon the themes of the book.”
Just Kids was a best-seller that recounted Smith’s arrival in New York in 1967, not yet 21 and with no money but full of dreams of a creative life. She found a job in a bookshop where Mapplethorpe was working and the two became friends and shared a Brooklyn apartment. The book told of how, alongside one another, they cultivated their own distinctive senses of style and sought to fulfil their artistic ambitions.
The story won America’s National Book Award and has been translated into 40 languages.
David Nevins, President of American TV network Showtime, which has commissioned the series, described Just Kids as “one of my favourite memoirs of all time”. He said: “Not only is it a fascinating portrait of artists coming of age, but it’s also an inspiring story of friendship, love and endurance.”
Smith will co-write the scripts with John Logan, who recently made the horror drama Penny Dreadful, shown in Britain on Sky Atlantic. She is about to release a follow up to Just Kids, called M Train and described as “a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee”.
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