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M Train

Patti Smith.
Publisher Vintage  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
ISBN 9781101910160
Pages/Publication Date 275/2016
Daedalus Item Code 69245
This item is not available.
The legendary poet, performer, and eternal bohemian (she has been awarded the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic), Patti Smith followed up her National Book Award–winning memoir Just Kids with this odyssey of cafés and places of pilgrimage—"a roadmap to my life," as she calls it. M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, she takes us to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin, to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith acquired just before Hurricane Sandy hit, and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Throughout the book she scatters her black and white Polaroid photos, reflects on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, and remembers her life in Michigan with her late husband Fred Sonic Smith.

"A collage of a singularly creative life. In M Train, Smith writes about New York, her love of cafes, her favorite books and television shows, her cats, [and] her memories, joyful and melancholy, of her husband. But it is her travels—idiosyncratic, ritualistic, vividly recalled—that provide a unifying theme. She travels with purpose, with passion. Going backward and forward in time, she describes trips to Mexico, France, Morocco, Japan and other places, often looking for signs that will reveal her next trip. As for the inconvenient aspects of travel—canceled flights, lost luggage, jet lag—they are, in their own ways, opportunities. After all, a late plane might be a sign to catch a flight to another destination. And the 'thick torpor' of jet lag is often 'coupled with a surprisingly internal luminosity'."—NYTimes

"[Patti Smith] is the perfect guide, revealing the mysteries in the shadows, the little bits of life people often take for granted—such as a good cup of coffee, a familiar coat, or the 'transformation of the heart.' Her haunting and joyful recollections of life with her late husband, Fred Sonic Smith, anchor her intensely physical descent into memory and its ability to haunt her waking and dreaming life. The narrative carries readers through the despair, loss, hope, consolation, and mysteries that Smith faces as she lives through Fred's death, struggles with the writer's craft, and comes to realize, through one of her dreams, that the 'writer is a conductor'—and she is indeed a phenomenal conductor along these elegant tours of the haunting places in her life, where anyone might stumble upon momentary but life-altering wisdom."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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