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“I’m convinced that Patti Smith is the reincarnation of some spiritual mystic. Someone like Joan of Arc or Hildegard von Bingen. At this point I am committed to only listening to her audiobooks because her words are even more powerful in her own dreamy cadence. I sound like a school girl mooning over her first loved celebrity but, I can’t say it’s that different for me. I’ve lived and read enough to know that Patti Smith will forever be a literary icon for me and if you disagree, I maintain that you either haven’t read her yet OR you are wrong (insert tongue sticking out emoji). Anyway. I always struggle to review Patti’s books because her dream-like writing style is hard for me to appropriately express. In Year of the Monkey, Patti struggles with two incredible losses of lifelong friends, she struggles with the odd world we all find ourselves living in now, she struggles with dreams. Her prose (as it always seems to, but more so in this book) jumps quickly and fluidly from heady esoteric musings to a fluorescent glimpse into reality. A fever dream of images, are they real or a part of her beautiful mind. Patti is obsessed with a beach covered in candy wrappers, why isn’t this in the news? An out of place conversation with strangers about Robert Bolano. A dreamy vision of discussing Ayers Rock with Sam Shepherd, and the stark reality of his declining health. If you are unfamiliar with Patti Smith and/or her books, I encourage you wholeheartedly to pick one of them up, get lost in her incredible mind and musings. If not for the sake of understanding this bumbling mess of a review, for yourself so that you too can be drunk on her words and lost for your own. ”Chelsea, McLean & Eakin Booksellers
From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year.
Following a run of New Year's concerts at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs--including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger's words, "Anything is possible: after all, it's the Year of the Monkey." For Smith--inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing--the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life's gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.
Smith melds the western landscape with her own dreamscape. Taking us from California to the Arizona desert; to a Kentucky farm as the amanuensis of a friend in crisis; to the hospital room of a valued mentor; and by turns to remembered and imagined places, this haunting memoir blends fact and fiction with poetic mastery. The unexpected happens; grief and disillusionment set in. But as Smith heads toward a new decade in her own life, she offers this balm to the reader: her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and above all, a rugged hope for a better world.
Riveting, elegant, often humorous, Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times.
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