M Train by Patti Smith

”It’s Not So Easy Writing About Nothing”

I was expecting a lot when I picked up Patti Smith’s best seller ”M Train”.  Her previous novel (best seller as well) ”Just Kids” had a very profound effect on the way I perceive whatever life throws my way, especially the bad stuff. After ”Just Kids”, I somehow felt I would never be quite alone again and that all my beloved writers would always be there for me, already having accepted to share their deepest, most sincere intimate feelings at length on pretty much everything that really matters. All those miraculous novels holding a mysterious key could help me solve one of many riddles hidden in our seemingly insignificant lives, unlocking secluded passageways and concealed doors .

Patti Smith during her pilgrimage to French Guiana with Fred. Photo courtesy of Patti Smith

”Just Kids” is a touching story of unconditional love and friendship, two struggling, ascending artists who dearly rely on each other for help and support, whatever happens. Patti and Robert’s linear, chronological narrative differs a lot from Patti’s train of thoughts; that ”green train with an ”M” in a cercle; a faded green like the back of a preying mantis.” Series of small short scenes, delightful slices of life. Always having innocent seemingly facts invariably leading to another philosophical journey into Patti’s heart and soul, delivered to the reader without vanity, in a very intimate matter of speech. Her thoughts seemingly being instantaneously translated into words: ”When I was young I had the notion to think and write simultaneously, but I could  never keep up with myself.” I was ready to sit next to Patti’s table at Cafe ‘Ino, wanting to share the intimacy of her ever flowing thoughts, eager to learn what had become of that girl I had learned to admire and love so much.

Patti Smith with writer William S Burroughs in his NY bunker at 222 Bowery Street.

Patti is a woman with a fascinating story, putting things in a brand new perspective, showing us how different our life could be seen if we dared to focus and realise how each and every moment is rich of its very own history, how every little object has a story to tell if you can be kind enough to let it speak and have the courtesy to listen. Thanks again Patti for giving me solace in the present, allowing me to remember that each minute passing by is an opportunity to let the world know that everything is changing before our very eyes. No one else can make you embrace the life you were given, never forgetting to pay tribute of those who tried so very hard that they got swallowed in that moment,  forgetting that there is always tomorrow… Akutagawa, Dazai and Sylvia Plath, to name only a few of those mentioned in the book. ”M Train” is also an ultimate tribute to all of those that Patti held in very high esteem, modestly sharing her enthusiasm for the work of masters like Bulgakov, Jean Genest, Burroughs, Murakami, Kurosawami, Tolstoi, the Beats and many, many others throughout the book.

Patti’s favorite, The “Wedding Photo,” with husband Fred Sonic Smith, backstage, 8 February 1978. Fred died at the age of 45 in 1994.

Most of all ”M Train” speaks of times spent with her loved ones, we can feel Fred ”Sonic” Smith’s (guitarist from Detroit band MC5)spirit all through the book, all across the globe where Patti’s tales takes us, she left a little part of her everywhere with everyone because Patti is a generous soul and if she is very sensitive, she is also very strong and no matter what, the memory of those she has loved or still loves is always at reach, hidden in the bottom of the pockets of an old black coat, she can almost feel it with the tip of her fingers and it makes her happy. And it makes her sad…: ”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. Boys 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.”

Jackson, Patti, and Jesse at home, photo by Annie Leibovitz

 

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32 thoughts on “M Train by Patti Smith

    1. Patti Smith is a writer And a ,usician. She wrote 2 novels and both are best sellers. I definitely recommend reading both of them starting by Just Kids! It is such a wonderful stroy, so inspiring. It really changed me life. I hope you get the chance to read her!

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    2. That’s great. But it’s something that won’t click now because since the Internet became a part of our everyday life and e-books became a thing, people mostly don’t care much about books anymore. That’s why you’ll hardly see thrift bookstores anymore.

      I really do not like e-books that much. If you saw this post, I did say “I really prefer the sight, smell and feel of real books”…BTW, the Dream Crate is still an ongoing thing. You might want to come up with your own list?

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    3. I’m really not a fan of e-books neither…I too like the smell, the feel, the cover and the fact that I look at book collection on the shelves, all (more or less..) neatly classified, some of them are meaningful to me… I do use my e-book thingy for books I’m unsure of so I read them on me e-book first and if I really like them, I’ll buy them in paper and add them to my little livbrary.. So yeah!! I TOTALLY hear ya..And yes I will definitely check out the Dream Crate!!! Sounds like fun!! Another of your very good ideas!!!

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    4. When I like something, like a book, and I don’t have copy of it, I still try to find a copy for myself…Right now, maybe I’ll content myself with some free e-books I’ve found because I have an idea about inviting people to ask me to review their work. I won’t ask for anything, but it’s a good way to increase my collection without shelling out money, he he…

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    5. Very good idea! That is more or less what I do and I was fortunate enough to have a writer I admired very much sending out all the books he wrote, all of them being incredibly well written biographies about people I admire very much. He has since them become my mentor and I intend to review each and every book he wrote and review them. SO far it has been a highly profitable experience for the both of us. Some of his books have gotten a renewed interest and will be translated in French and will published in France and hopefully in Quebec too!! I’m very grateful for having the chance to be introduced to him. I have since then met a lot of other good writers who were from that same era, gravitating around that same circle of people whom I admire and respect very much. To me this was a radical change in my life. I realised that this is what I wanted to do. I hope someday it will lead to me writing my own stuff… Who knows.. For now I’m just very happy to be able to read those books and be able to talk about it with the author with whim I have developped a significant relationship. I do like to think that I have helped him. I do know that I feel blessed to have been introduced to him and I have Marcia Resnick to thank for that. You never know who is going to read your review and who you are going to come across. I am learning so much nowadays and each day I get more reasons to keep on doing what I do! I wish you all the best my dear friend. Thank you so much for always encouraging me right when I was just starting… In fact I’m still very new to this compare to you. It is very kind of you to take the time to encourage people who are just starting their blogs. It can be so deceiving at first because it does take a while before you start getting any kind of recognition. Thank you for believing in me right from the sart. I’ve been going through a very rough patch since December and writing and bloggin’ have been my life buoy even if I have been unable to be as productive as I normally am for awhile but I am better now. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I see I’m able to concentrate and focus more and more and I will come out of it stronger then I was.

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    6. There is no other way!! You know I admire you very much for being on the blogosphere for so long. but mostly for encouraging people like me right from the start when I was only starting and gave me the strenght to go on even when I was only getting an insignificant response. Right now my life is in shambles and this blog is the only thing that I have going for me. So thank you again for believing in me and gicing me the will to invest in what is now the most precious thing in my life. I will definitely go and read your reviews and if there is anything I can do for you plz let me know!! I wish you all the best and pray for you that you get the peace of mind you deserve. May God help you in his many mysterious ways my friend!! NAMASTE!

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    7. I know you do!! Include me in yours too if you can, I really really do need it nowadays. Just sent you my review of ”Just Kids”. I can send you other reviews too if you want but this is one book that I really feel one should read once in their life. Not because it’s Patti Smith but because the story is so pognant and told with such honesty. Patti Smith is so lucid and grounded. I hope one day you will have the chance to read it.. Hugz!

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    8. I definitely will include you in my prayers. It’s the best and most sincere gift anyone can give someone else…

      As for reviews, sure send them. Do save some for your own blog, too. If you have other types of reviews as well, like music or art or whatever, that would be nice. I don’t do those.

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    9. BTW I think Just Kids by Patti Smith is undoubtebly (IMO and I must not be the only one because it is a best seller and has won many awards) one of the books one must read before you die. BTW do you include poetrybooks or just novels?

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    10. Include where? I haven’t done any personal reviews of poetry books, but I do read them as I write poetry myself. I’m not sure if I’ll feel knowledgeable enough to review a poetry book. Poetry is really art which beauty depends on the beholder.

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    11. I would be honored if you want to include my review of Just Kids if ever you think it deserves to be on that list. Just offering. I would not at all be offended in any way if you feel otherwise. Have a wonderful day GI!! HUGZ!

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    12. Oh, okay, I think you think I really have a list of reviews. The links I gave redirect to another blog that I don’t own. They encourage those tho are interested to write reviews on the books they have listed. I do have a few reviews on my blog, but just a few. Some, I haven’t posted yet.

      That said, I would be very honored as well if you’d like guest post using that review. Go right ahead and send to me through j.gi.federizo@gmail.com 🙂

      Hugs to you, too!!!!

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    13. OK I also sent the coding in a separate file. I didn’t know how you wanted it so I sent it both ways!! I think Just Kids is better than ”M Train” and also more accessible to the general public. Bye for now !!

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    1. Her 2 most recent novels are best sellers so not only she is also a writer but she’s a very good one!! TBH I like her more as a writer than as a musician. I’m going to publish in a few days a review of a bio on Patti written by Victor Bockris. I really suggest that you read Patti’s ”Just Kids”. Man its one of my all time fav book!! You are going to be forever grateful that you’ve read it. Trust me!! TY for your comment. It’s really what I intend to do with my website, get people to acknowledge things that are amazing to me and to be able to share them with open-minded people. Peace Out my friend and have a wonderful week-end!

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