BOOK REVIEW: M Train by Patti Smith (Review by Caroline Baum)

by |September 22, 2015

m-trainThis slim volume is hard to describe and to categorise. It appears to be about nothing much and yet it has a haunting quality. Smith is a poet in every phrase and every cadence.

Fuelled by superhuman coffee intake (fourteen cups a day!) she goes in search of the best beans on the planet, drifting, digressing, dreaming and reading. Seemingly directionless and flimsy, this is a marvellously seductive collection of fragments that demonstrate Smith’s erudition as a reader of obscure and classic texts and proves that her first book, Just Kids, was no fluke.

In that stunning debut, her incredible roster of friends from Mapplethorpe to Burrows featured prominently. Here, she is closer to the dead than the living (with the exception of Marukami), paying homage to Frida Kahlo, WG Sebald and Schiller on meandering pilgrimages that defy time.

A marvellous book to get lost in.

Get your copy of Patti Smith’s M Train here

M Train

by Patti Smith

The new book from Patti Smith, one of the greatest artists of her generation.

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 multi-platform artists at work today.

Get your copy of Patti Smith’s M Train here

About the Author

Patti SmithPatti Smith is 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, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence.

In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honour given to an artist by the French Republic.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Smith married Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse.

Smith resides in New York City.

Visit Patti Smith’s Booktopia Author Page

Just Kids woolgathering The Coral Sea

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About the Contributor

Anastasia Hadjidemetri is the former editor of The Booktopian and star of Booktopia's weekly YouTube show, Booked with Anastasia. A big reader and lover of books, Anastasia relishes the opportunity to bring you all the latest news from the world of books.


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