I was first introduced to Patti Smith’s work at the ripe old age of 17. The music spoke to my teenage angst and confusion. I jumped at the chance to read the auto-biographical Just Kids, a tale of her early life and career before major fame. I even saw her perform at Hyde Park this summer – one of the greatest experiences of my life. Speaking of another of my greatest experiences, I read one of her newer releases en route to Hanoi on a sleeper train. The beautiful scenery may or may not have added to the experience.
M Train follows a year or so in the life of Patti Smith, as she fills her time with self-reflection, dreams and celebration of the dead. It is not your typical auto-biography, instead following thought trails and bizarre tangents. The narrative almost takes you on a journey, from complete loss and confusion to the understanding of Patti’s position, her loneliness, and her depression. The book almost reads as a mourning period in her fascination with death. I found it uplifting in its morbidity. Its simplicity.
Maybe it was the Vietnamese scenery, maybe it was Patti’s lyrical prose, either way reading this book felt like taking a journey into her mind. The normality of her life; the time spent over coffee in cafes, buying a beach house and enjoyment of detective shows. It is more of a conversation with her. The intimacy of these moments creates something precious, M Train was delicate in its childlike qualities.
I would recommend this book as a tool for mindfulness. If you need to take some time for yourself, then this could be a good place to start.