M Train

M Train

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From the National Book Award winning author of "Just Kids" an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the prism of the cafes and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Patti Smith has described as a roadmap to my life.
"M Train" begins in the tiny Greenwich Village cafe where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel 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 acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima.
Woven throughout are reflections on the writer s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.
Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, "M Train" is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature, and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable multiplatform artists at work today."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 145 x 210 x 22mm | 422g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1101875100
  • 9781101875100
  • 151,268

Review Text

"Incantatory . . . Unlike her first memoir, the now classic, Just Kids, which was all about the thrill of 'becoming,' M Train is mostly about the challenge of enduring erosion and discovering new passions (like detective fiction and a tumbledown cottage in Rockaway Beach, Queens). Smith, of course, is a 'kid' no longer. She's suffered a lot of losses, including the deaths of artist Robert Mapplethorpe, who was her partner in crime in the Just Kids years, and her husband, musician Fred 'Sonic' Smith, who died suddenly in his 40s. 'They are all stories now,' says Smith, thinking of these and other deaths . . . Both of Smith's memoirs tell a haunting story about being sheltered and fed, in all senses, by New York City." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR (Best Books of 2015)

"Patti Smith's new book remains one of the best reading experiences I had this year . . . elliptical and fragmentary, weird and beautiful, and, at its core, a reckoning with loss. Much has been made of the book's seeming spontaneity, its diaristic drift. But as the echoes among its discrete episodes pile up, it starts to resonate like a poem. At one point, Smith writes about W.G. Sebald, and there are affinities with The Emigrants in the way M Train circles around a tragedy, or constellation of tragedies, pointing rather than naming. It is formally a riskier book than the comparatively straight-ahead Just Kids, but a worthy companion piece. And that Smith is still taking on these big artistic dares in 2015 should inspire anyone who longs to make art. In this way, and because it is partly a book about reading other books-how a life is made of volumes-it seems like a fitting way to turn the page on one year in reading, and to welcome in another." -Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

"Rich, inventive . . . Where Just Kids charted Smith's path from childhood to celebrity, M Train does not move in a simple arc from one destination to another. It meanders between her interior life and her life in the world, connecting dreams, reflections and memories. Smith's language lures the reader down this nonformulaic path. She doesn't slap a convenient label on emotions; she dissects them. With each sip [of coffee], her ruminations deepen . . . M Train is less about achieving success than surviving it. Smith has outlived many of the companions who sustained her in her youth. She grieves for her husband and her brother; she mourns the artists with whom she had felt a connection when they were alive, including Burroughs and Bowles. And in a scene that strikes a universal chord, she mourns her mother . . . At the center of M Train is the passage of time-the way places and events can mean different things at different stages in a person's life . . . Tender, heartbreaking." -M. G. Lord, The New York Times Book Review

"Incandescent . . . moving, lovely. Patti Smith is a poet with a mindful of memories enough to fill M Train to the brim. Let's be clear: every observation is beautiful. M Train is chiefly concerned with salvaging the pieces that, together, form a life entire . . . In its barest sense, the book is a series of cups of coffee around the world, drunk between waking and sleep. But once the memoir has sunk in its claws, these rituals become a framework for more meaningful observations. What is a life, if not a pattern interrupted by occasional revelations or surprises? Where Just Kids traced the linear progression of her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and her coming of age in 1970s New York City, M Train finds its footing in shared experiences. It's the universal-not rock 'n' roll in particular-that haunts the reader most . . . Aging and loss transcend fame and geography. Smith whittles her prose down to the essentials . . . M Train's greatest reward, for a reader, is her unwillingness to bend to the dream-cowboy's recurring doubts [about] 'writing about nothing.' Even nothing has meaning-the found objects, the things remembered, the cups of coffee that mark o
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Review quote

Iconic poet, writer, and artist Smith articulates the pensive rhythm of her life through the stations of her travels. In a Greenwich Village cafe sipping coffee, jotting quixotic notes in journals, and plotting my next move, the author reflects on the places she s visited, and the impact each played on her past and present selves. She describes a chance meeting with guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, who swiftly stole and sealed her heart with marriage and children. A graceful, ruminative tour guide, Smith writes of travelling with Fred, armed with a vintage 1967 Polaroid, to French Guiana, then of solitary journeys to Frida Kahlo s Casa Azul, and to the graves of Sylvia Plath, Jean Genet, and a swath of legendary Japanese filmmakers. After being seduced by Rockaway Beach and purchasing a ramshackle bungalow there, the property was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy though she vowed to rebuild. The author synchronizes past memories and contemporary musings on books, art, and life with Fred . . . No matter the distance life may take her, Smith always recovers some semblance of normalcy with the simple pleasures of a deli coffee on her stoop, her mind constantly buoyed by humanity, art, and memory . . . An atmospheric, moody, and bittersweet memoir, to be savored and pondered. "Kirkus""
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About Patti Smith

PATTI SMITHis a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including "Horses, "which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by "Rolling Stone."
Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. Her books include "Just Kids, " winner of the National Book Award in 2010, "W tt," "Babel," "Woolgathering," "The Coral Sea," and"Auguries of Innocence. "
In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
Smith married the musician Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse. Smith resides in New York City."
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Rating details

27,975 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 38% (10,617)
4 35% (9,904)
3 18% (5,147)
2 5% (1,461)
1 3% (846)
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