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Amazon Best Books of the Month, January 2010: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe weren't always famous, but they always
thought they would be. They found each other, adrift but determined, on the streets of New York City in the late '60s
and made a pact to keep each other afloat until they found their voices--or the world was ready to hear them. Lovers
first and then friends as Mapplethorpe discovered he was gay, they divided their dimes between art supplies and Coney
Island hot dogs. Mapplethorpe was quicker to find his metier, with a Polaroid and then a Hasselblad, but Smith was the
first to fame, transformed, to her friend's delight, from a poet into a rock star. (Mapplethorpe soon became famous
too--and notorious--before his death from AIDS in 1989.) Smith's memoir of their friendship, Just Kids, is tender and
artful, open-eyed but surprisingly decorous, with the oracular style familiar from her anthems like "Because the Night,"
"Gloria," and "Dancing Barefoot" balanced by her powers of observation and memory for everyday details like the price of
automat sandwiches and the shabby, welcoming fellow bohemians of the Chelsea Hotel, among whose ranks these baby
Rimbauds found their way. --Tom Nissley