Patti Smith Announces New Memoir ‘M Train’
Patti Smith’s follow-up memoir to her award-winning account of life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, will come out this fall. The new book, M Train, will present what her publisher has described as a journey through 18 “stations,” as she writes about various turning points in her life. The memoir, which is due out October 6th, will also contain black-and-white Polaroids that the singer-songwriter took herself.
M Train’s narrative will begin at the Greenwich Village café where Smith used to drink black coffee every morning and “ruminate on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook,” as her publisher puts it (via Pitchfork). The book’s cover shows her at the now-closed Café ‘Ino.
From there, the story will shift between reality and dreams, as Smith ponders various forms of creativity, from “Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico, to a meeting of an Arctic explorer’s society in Berlin; from the ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith buys just before Hurricane Sandy hits, to the graves of [Jean] Genet, [Sylvia] Plath, [Arthur] Rimbaud and [Yukio] Mishima.” She also shares memories of her time married to MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith, who died in 1994 – an event that greatly affected Patti’s life. “It is loss, as well as the consolation we might salvage from it, that lies at the heart of this exquisitely told memoir,” publisher Knopf included in its brief.
Smith told Rolling Stone last year that she had submitted the book to her publisher last October; she first announced she’d begun work on it in 2011. At the time, she described it as being “sort of in present tense.” “I wanted to write a contemporary book or just write whatever I felt like writing about, and it’s things going from literature to coffee to memories of Fred in Michigan,” she says. “It’s whatever I felt. I hopped on a train and kept going.”
Just Kids – one of Rolling Stone’s Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time – focused on Smith’s relationship with Mapplethorpe, as well as her encounters with Sixties counterculture figures like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Andy Warhol. “I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf,” the singer said when she was accepting the National Book Award for the tome. “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.”