M Train

Patti Smith (Bloomsbury)

Oct 28, 2015 at 10:11 am
click to enlarge 'M Train' by Patti Smith
'M Train' by Patti Smith

Patti Smith, the sexy, seminal Punk rocker, poet goddess and performance artist, has released a sequel to her National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids, the mesmerizing, hypnotic and glorious collection of essays entitled M Train. No longer a kid, the 68-year-old wordsmith has crafted another masterpiece, more sanguine and meditative than her first memoir, but no less ambitious, entrancing and just plain funny.

The essays feel like intimate conversations with a longtime friend over great coffee on rainy mornings, and they are divided into 20 chapters (or “train stations”). Each station is a portal through which Patti accompanies us into her world, both real and imagined and always sublime. Where Just Kids was edgy and desperate, M Train is deliberate and expansive.

Whether sitting next to Smith at “her table” inside ‘Ino Café in Greenwich Village, where she goes each morning to write or daydream, or visiting mystical haunts, including the graves of Genet, Plath or Rimbaud, this memoir unfolds with a fluidity of prose and poetry like puffy clouds.

“It’s not so easy writing about nothing,” a mysterious cowpoke keeps reminding Patti throughout M Train, “especially when there’s so much to say” — just one of the many ghosts and spirits who inhabit each excursion into the imagination.

Onward we ride to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico and back to the Jersey Shore or Rockaway Beach after Hurricane Sandy’s wretched devastation. By the final stop, we feel as one with Smith, together reaching out for communal grace; both searching for comfort as night closes in — splendid and victorious. Grade: A