NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Riveting, elegant, humorous—this "picaresque voyage through Patti Smith’s dreams and life, blending fiction and reality, conjured characters and actual ones” (The New York Times) is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times. Illustrated by Smith’s signature Polaroids.
Following a run of new year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland, in which she debates intellectual grifters and spars with the likes of a postmodern Cheshire Cat. Then, in February 2016, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. For Smith—inveterately curious, always exploring, always writing—this becomes a year of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.
Taking us from California to the Arizona desert, from a Kentucky farm to the hospital room of a valued mentor, Smith melds the western landscape with her own dreamscape in a haunting, poetic blend of fact and fiction. As a stranger tells her, “Anything is possible. After all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” But as Smith heads toward a new decade in her own life, she offers this balm to the reader: her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and above all, a rugged hope for a better world.
Including a new chapter, "Epilogue of an Epilogue," and ten new photos, Year of the Monkey “reminds us that despair and possibility often spring from the same source” (Los Angeles Times).
As she wanders between waking and dreaming in a year filled with the death of a close friend and the political turmoil of the 2016 election, musician and National Book Award winner Smith (Just Kids) contemplates dreams and reality in this luminous collection of anecdotes and photos. In light of her 70th birthday, Smith writes lyrically on various subjects: she describes Allen Ginsberg's poetry which she carries along her travels as an "expansive hydrogen bomb, containing all the nuances of his voice." On the "terrible soap opera called the American election," she declares that "the bully bellowed. Silence ruled... All hail our American apathy, all hail the twisted wisdom of the Electoral College." Watching a Belinda Carlisle video, she's caught up in Carlisle's infectious beat, and she imagines a "nonviolent hubris spreading across the land." At one point, Smith learns from a stranger that, in dreams, "equations are solved in an entirely unique way, laundry stiffens in the wind, and our dead mothers appear with their backs turned." Smith discovers that her most meaningful insights come from her vivid dreams, and she feels a palpable melancholia over having to wake up from them. Smith casts a mesmerizing spell with exquisite prose.