Year of the Monkey
by Patti Smith
Pub Date 24 Sep 2019
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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 Patti 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 Southern 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. But as Patti 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 of a better world.
Riveting, elegant, often humorous, illustrated by Smith’s signature Polaroids, Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times.
PRAISE FOR PATTI SMITH
‘Beautiful, incredible - it will make you ache for a time and a place that you probably never knew’ Nick Hornby
‘This book is so honest and pure as to count as a true rapture’ Joan Didion
‘A sharp, elegiac and finely crafted’ Sunday Times
‘Terrifically evocative ... Spellbinding and diverting’ New York Times
‘Tender, harrowing, often hilarious’ Vogue
‘She was once our savage Rimbaud, but suffering has turned her into our St John of the Cross, a mystic full of compassion’ Edmund White