January 21, 2016

'M Train' by Patti Smith takes you on a ride

POINT RICHMOND, Calif. - National Book Award winner Patti Smith takes readers on a journey around the globe in her 2015 book, M Train.

Written in a series of vignettes and remembrances, M Train walks the reader through Smith's life in New York, trips to Spain, Japan and elsewhere.

And through it all, Smith is either gulping coffee - or looking for a cup, somewhere. Anywhere.

Patti Smith's talents as a writer, performer and visual artist span decades. And in M Train, she moves around in time, using her life to paint a portrait of the world through her very unusual lens. She carries an old Polaroid camera through much of the book, shooting photos, then meticulously peeling off the back to reveal the created image. If that image seems odd, you never owed a Polaroid.

Patti Smith
Besides the coffee habit, Smith manages to lose things here and there - a notebook on a plane, a favorite coat, even once her camera. She is quite sanguine about these losses often faintly linking them to the death of her husband Fred. Fred is a specter in the book, but friendly one.

Perhaps the most rewarding parts of M Train come in the form of snippets of languid language  peppered with occasional aphorisms, all waiting to be discovered.

My favorite? "Not all dreams need to be realized..."

M Train is a dreamy book that triggers emotions and memories. Highly recommended, especially for writers.

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