M Train

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There is a distinctly dreamlike quality to M Train, Patti Smith’s beautiful new memoir. Smith is a musician, poet, photographer and memoirist. (Her earlier book, Just Kids, about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, won the National Book Award in 2010. Accepting the award, she said, “There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.”)

Smith is also a wanderer, a pilgrim. Her lyrical phrases take us back and forth from her dreams to reality, from present to past and back again. She takes us to Mexico to visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, to French Guiana, to Berlin, Morocco, and Madrid. We visit the Greenwich Village café where she has coffee every day.

She takes us along as she visits the homes or graves of some of the writers she’s loved and admired. At the grave of Sylvia Plath just outside of London: “I hadn’t factored in all the snow. It reflected the chalk sky already infused with murky smears.… I was numb with cold but couldn’t bear to leave. It was such a desolate place in winter, so lonely. Why had her husband buried her here? …Why not New England by the sea, where she was born, where salt winds could spiral over the name PLATH etched in her native stone?”

And finally, she brings us to her home: “Home is the cats, my books, and my work never done. All the lost things that may one day call to me, the faces of my children who will one day call to me. Maybe we can’t draw flesh from reverie nor retrieve a dusty spur, but we can gather the dream itself and bring it back uniquely whole.”

M Train is a meditation, elegiac and elegant. It is lovely work, a friend, to be read again and again.


Reviewed By:

Author  Patti Smith
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 272 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2015-Oct-06
ISBN 9781101875100
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue December 2015
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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