M Train, by Patti Smith
Ms. Smith is something of a Renaissance woman. Musician, writer, photographer, performer, she has the restless mind that makes all these talents work for her. A previous book, Just Kids, won the National Book Award, and this book follows suit in its clarity of subject and writing style.
M Train is on the surface a jumble of reflections on a creative life that shows no sign of slowing down. But this is a deception. The book is about the evanescence of life; the transience of all things natural and human. Ms. Smith depicts the passing of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, in a manner parallel to and equal to a beach cottage she bought, a cafe she frequented, and a growing host of friends and writers she has always admired, now lost.
But the book is more than a bemoaning of things lost. Whether it’s TV reruns, dreams of her late husband, or the promise of her beach cottage reconstructed, she notes in nature the eventual return of everything. To her, there’s little difference, it seems, between imagination, dreams, and the stark reality of life on earth. It all matters, and it’s up to the creative soul to ferret that significance out in ways that help the rest of us understand.
My rating: 19 of 20 stars