From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids: a “sublime collection of true stories … and wild imaginings that take us to the very heart of who Patti Smith is” (Vanity Fair), told through the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. Patti Smith calls this bestselling work “a roadmap to my life.”
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 the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to the fertile moon terrain of Iceland; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; to the West 4th Street subway station, filled with the sounds of the Velvet Underground after the death of Lou Reed; 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.
Featuring a postscript with five new photos from Patti Smith
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In Just Kids, poet and songwriter Patti Smith captured the glory of falling in love: with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, with downtown New York, with the bohemian life. Her new memoir is more amorphous, but no less beautiful and inspiring. In M Train, Smith turns her laser-beam focus on fleeting moments and indelible memories: sitting in a favorite cafe, a quixotic trip to French Guiana, falling in love with a dilapidated beach shack in a seaside Queens neighborhood. It’s the kind of book that inspires you to chase new experiences. Throughout, Smith’s intelligence, creativity, and wit shine through, as does her love of her late husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith.
Following Smith's bestselling and critically acclaimed book Just Kids, this essay collection creates a map of the singer-songwriter's peripatetic journeys to cafes, cemeteries, hotels, and train stations around the world. She 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." In 19 imagistic reflections, Smith invites readers to travel with her from Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul and Sylvia Plath's grave to the Far Rockaway bungalow that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy comes ashore and destroys much of the surrounding territory. Smith's haunting and joyful recollections of her 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. Smith illustrates her meditations with her signature Polaroid photos of Fred, as well as objects such as her father's desk chair and the chess table where Bobby Fischer played Boris Spassky. 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.
A heartfelt journey
Smith takes the reader on a non-linear ramble through her adult life, exposing countless moments of beauty, in a way that's both deep and, somehow, accessible.
This is a magnificent collection of thoughts and experiences from a true talent. Through the tears I felt I was with her and understand, as one Queens native to another, her love of where she lives, the authors she so admires, and the love and loss she feels. Thank you for this wise and gentle book.
Beautiful read ❤️
Patti Smith is a poetic genius that transports you into her world of cafes, and personal travels, which are accompanied by her witty and imaginative thoughts. A very dreamy book. I absolutely loved it!