When they had their first joint show, an art critic dubbed it: “The Diary of a Friendship” and that, too, is what one might call Patti Smith’s achingly tender diary of her relationship between her and her beloved friend, Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids.
It’s a book that almost defies classification: It’s not really a memoir/autobiography–it’s more an auto-biography. A combination of the one and the other, a bringing together of the two to form one whole, much like the relationship between Smith and Mapplethorpe. You might find yourself wowed by seeing so many of your personal icons walk through the pages, but I’m guessing you will be mostly just deeply touched by the tenderness, the beauty, the youthful desire, mistakes and lucky accidents, love and sadness.
At the core of this book, is the melding together of these two young artists and how they become one and how they became individuals. The most poignant moment of the book for me (other than the end) was when Smith describes the photo shoot for Horses, as she looks at the photo that became her album cover, she encapsulates what seems to be their entire experience together (and brings me to tears in the process):
“Whenever I look at it now, I never see me. I see us.”
It’s a hard book to write about, other than to say the prose is often beautiful, always concise. It’s a book, like the words and music and images of the two artists it is about, that I can’t imagine not loving.