M Train

M Train

Book - 2015
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M Train is a journey through eighteen "stations." It 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. We then travel across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations: from Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; from the ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy hits, to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred Sonic Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss. For it is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this memoir, augmented by black-and-white Polaroids taken by Smith herself.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101875100
1101875100
1101875119
9781101875117
Branch Call Number: 921 Smith
Description: 253 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Loss and any consolation we can get after the death of a spouse are the heart of this book. A journey of eighteen stations on the title train supply the framework of this memoir with frequent sparks of light. An accomplished songwriter, performer, and poet, Smith has written an affirmatory book o... Read More »


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m
MB85CAL
May 23, 2018

Sheer poetry in how Patti Smith turns a phrase or sentence to conjure an image or an emotion. Highly recommend for a thoughtful and pleasurable read.

i
ilovemango
Aug 29, 2017

Loved this book. Was blown away by her knowledge and love of literature.

DBRL_IdaF Jul 19, 2017

I've long felt an affinity for Patti Smith. There are many layers to this. One day when my children were young I heard her on the radio for the first time in years. Then I discovered she'd been working at raising her children in the interim. This most excellent and inspiring poet/musician had been doing mom work, like me (but probably better). But when her husband died, she had to get back to paying work.

M Train is a reflective book. Smith doesn't write in shoulds. She writes of is. What is. What is inside and outside. How her dreams coexist with the world outside of her head.

My, does she ever love coffee. You know what else she loves? Her husband Fred. Loves, present tense, despite his having died in the 1990s. It's there in every word she writes about him.

"We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother's voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, father dead, daughter taller than me, weeping from a bad dream. Please stay forever, I say to the things I know. Don't go. Don't grow."

v
vickiz
Dec 13, 2016

As I was reading M Train, I yearned to be able to reach through the words and the wistful Polaroids and extend a comforting hand to Patti Smith. Her grief is deep and palpable, but her resilience and her abiding curiosity about the world as she wanders and seeks answers is both inspirational and beautifully poetic at the same time.

s
spantell
Oct 13, 2016

It's very stream of consciousness. I liked Just Kids a lot better but found this kind of soothing, as others have said.

r
Raindancer
Oct 11, 2016

I discovered Patti Smith when I was a teenager, dancing around my room to Horses. It resonated a chord with me. Sometimes the right book finds us at the right time. For me this was the book. I started reading M Train the same day I brought my first Murakami book completely unaware that was what the title M Train referred to. One of those happy bizarre coincidences. M Train is a meditation on coffee, cafe's, New York, love, writing and discovering portals to parallel universes. Now many years later I have rediscovered Patti Smith as a writer and fallen under her spell all over again.

u
uncommonreader
Aug 30, 2016

Melancholy, lonely and somewhat self-indulgent but interesting nevertheless.

j
jannylegs
Jul 11, 2016

Beautiful meditation on loss, with heavy memories of her late husband threading throughout. Read it in one sitting.

p
pattyskypants
Apr 23, 2016

Something about her writing is stiff yet very comforting. She's like that in person as well. I would like to hear more from her.

l
lukasevansherman
Apr 23, 2016

"It's not so easy writing about nothing."
Patti Smit's follow up to her acclaimed memoir "Just Kids." "Kids" was a little more narrative driven, focusing on her early days in NYC and her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethrope, who shot the cover of her iconic first album, "Horses." "M Train" is more episodic and impressionist, detailing her travels, her extensive reading, and her relationship with her late husband Fred "Sonic" Smith. It's not quite as moving or revealing as "Just Kids," but Smith's an engaging, wry, and observant writer and this is a nice book to read in short bursts. Features a bunch of her photographs as well.

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