Year of the Monkey
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, illustrated by Smith’s signature Polaroids, Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times.

Year of the Monkey Details

TitleYear of the Monkey
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 24th, 2019
PublisherKnopf
ISBN-139780525657682
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Music, Travel, Biography, Biography Memoir, Poetry

Year of the Monkey Review

  • Chris Molnar
    January 1, 1970
    Just Kids is a romantic, bohemian coming of age memoir par excellence; I'm only slightly ashamed to say I moved to New York because of it. The follow-up M Train is not inspiring in the same way but still an interesting reflection of her peripatetic life as a respected middle aged artist exploring different mediums and interests.Year of the Monkey, on the other hand, is something much darker, and unintentionally so - a deep dive into the mindset of a rich, famous artist as they ward off the outsi Just Kids is a romantic, bohemian coming of age memoir par excellence; I'm only slightly ashamed to say I moved to New York because of it. The follow-up M Train is not inspiring in the same way but still an interesting reflection of her peripatetic life as a respected middle aged artist exploring different mediums and interests.Year of the Monkey, on the other hand, is something much darker, and unintentionally so - a deep dive into the mindset of a rich, famous artist as they ward off the outside world with purple prose, self-serving games, and straightfoward denial. In her fantastical retelling of 2016, she playacts at the threadbare bohemian she used to be, her life a series of grimy diners and tough old friends, knit together with increasingly empty references to other books, and imaginary poor people who flit into her life like magical sprites full of wisdom.The level of meaningless verbiage is best captured in her description of Johnny Depp's portrayal of the Mad Hatter - "When Johnny Depp embraced the role of the Hatter he too was drawn into this multiplicity of being and ceased to be just Johnny." How does she get to this low point? The paragraph begins "March winds. March wedding. The ides of March. Josephine March. Numinous March with its strong associations. And of course there has always been the March Hare. I remember as a child being quite taken with the quirky Hare, sure that he and the Mad Hatter were one in the same, even sharing the same initials."Patti has based a long and fruitful career on freestyle Beat babble - check her out in Martin Scorsese's most recent Bob Dylan documentary, laying it down backstage as Dylan looks on in admiring bemusement. But there's something sour about it here, no core of need or curiosity, just wheels spinning. The low points come early, with a fully made up hitchhiking excursion featuring mixtape geniuses who don't recognize Patti Smith, cuddly caricatures of "normal" people and a premise that stopped being viable decades ago; worse, we meet an imaginary friend named Ernest - a Mexican fellow she meets in a bar who happens to share her obsession with Roberto Bolano.Not that stilted dialogue arguing about 2666 is bad per se - I love Bolano too, and her Polaroids here and in M Train of rare Bolanoabilia are excellent. But it reminded me of fan fiction, with a limp aimlessness much different from Bolano's own constant urgency. She tries to build the book towards Trump as climactic event, but she is so far removed from the consequences of his election that the best she can muster is a little bit of Daily Show-level wordjazz about migrants and a tidbit about how she heard LCD Soundsystem playing at the diner that night.Towards the end there are some strong musings on aging and death through the prism of her dying friend Sam Shepherd. But all in all you get the sense of someone who hasn't talked to a non-famous person in decades, who wishes more than anything that you still saw her as a salt of the earth type who rejects the trappings of fame and hitchhikes across the country. If it were true, it would be lovely, but rather than being autofiction that stretches reality for truth, it is autofiction that stretches reality for ego.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Patti Smith's latest memoir recounts the happenings of her life in 2016, which, somewhat unsurprisingly, was the year of the monkey (猴年) in the Chinese zodiac. The reader follows Smith as she hitchhikes around the U.S. while grappling with the death and illness of two close friends.I loved the first half of this - it felt reminiscent of some of Joan Didion's writing at times, dreamy passages about California and life in "the in-between". It lost steam a little for me in the second half, but stil Patti Smith's latest memoir recounts the happenings of her life in 2016, which, somewhat unsurprisingly, was the year of the monkey (猴年) in the Chinese zodiac. The reader follows Smith as she hitchhikes around the U.S. while grappling with the death and illness of two close friends.I loved the first half of this - it felt reminiscent of some of Joan Didion's writing at times, dreamy passages about California and life in "the in-between". It lost steam a little for me in the second half, but still made for an enjoyable introduction to Smith's writing.Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Harry McDonald
    January 1, 1970
    “It’s the dried-up-poet syndrome, necessitating plucking inspiration from the erratic air,”Patti Smith might be the great articulator of loss. So much of her work draws explicitly on it, all the way back to Horses. Her most famous book, Just Kids, was written out of a deathbed promise she made.Year of the Monkey, her account of 2016, is a lyrical tale that starts Smith tramping the west coast of America, a long way from the New York she’s spent so much of her prose describing. “Anything can happ “It’s the dried-up-poet syndrome, necessitating plucking inspiration from the erratic air,”Patti Smith might be the great articulator of loss. So much of her work draws explicitly on it, all the way back to Horses. Her most famous book, Just Kids, was written out of a deathbed promise she made.Year of the Monkey, her account of 2016, is a lyrical tale that starts Smith tramping the west coast of America, a long way from the New York she’s spent so much of her prose describing. “Anything can happen in the year of the monkey,” someone tells her. This is a year she saw in with someone vomiting on her boots. No wonder there is a sense of existential dread she seems to feel, as the year flies by and her 70th birthday draws nearer.The losses at the heart of this book are that of Sandy Pearlman, her long-time friend and collaborator, and Sam Shepard, playwright, actor and her former boyfriend. Both of these men appeared in Just Kids, in the 60s and 70s, in the prime of their lives. Here, they are sick and dying. Smith assists Shepard assemble his final manuscript, as he is near bed-ridden. They both look at the horses on his ranch, neither talking of how it is impossible for Shepard to ride again.Part of what Smith articulates so beautifully is how ultimately, the punk philosophy – that anything can happen, that any word can mean anything, that everything is up for grabs – is a lie. Or, it is at least not permanent. People can’t (and don’t) live forever, and it throws everything else into question.It had never occurred to me that this book slides into fiction, I didn’t read the blurb beforehand. There are strange moments in the first half of the book, but nothing outside the realms of possibility. Eventually she throws you into a total dreamscape, apocalyptic images, a sense of existential dread drawn in increasingly blurred lines as the narrative fragments into shorter and shorter chapters. Smith mourns her late friend Allen Ginsberg, knowing he would have thrown himself into the political maelstrom in a way that she implies she is not able to. The book does stay away from explicitly talking about the 2016 election – for the most part. But then again, a narrative that starts fairly recognisable and tumbles into a series of apocalypses… what describes the political landscape of 2016 more accurately than that?Like her other work, images reoccur: Medea, Samuel Beckett, Alice in Wonderland and the Tenniel illustrations in particular. Even the abstract ramblings of Smith’s life are steeped in a mythology that is unmistakeably, inimitably hers.
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  • Tyler Goodson
    January 1, 1970
    Alternating between lucid memoir and mystical, dreamlike sketches of the world around her, Patti Smith spends The Year of the Monkey dreading and mourning the loss of her friends and America as it once was. It's strange, beautiful, troubling, comforting.
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  • Richard Santos
    January 1, 1970
    Patti Smith is a poet warrior who's maybe reaching her peak as the country reaches a low point. This book is hypnotic and , as the title warns you, dream like. Long sections are hallucinatory, inspired, and it's impossible to tell what's real and what's not real but still truthful. This is a book about loss--Sam Shepherd to ALS, Sandy Pearlman to a cerebral hemorrhage, America to its President. Smith lives in a dreamy world of poetry and opera. Spending a few hours dreaming with her is a privile Patti Smith is a poet warrior who's maybe reaching her peak as the country reaches a low point. This book is hypnotic and , as the title warns you, dream like. Long sections are hallucinatory, inspired, and it's impossible to tell what's real and what's not real but still truthful. This is a book about loss--Sam Shepherd to ALS, Sandy Pearlman to a cerebral hemorrhage, America to its President. Smith lives in a dreamy world of poetry and opera. Spending a few hours dreaming with her is a privilege.
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  • Jules Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    It's Patti Smith's world, and we're just lucky to be living in it.—Have actually you've seen it? I asked.—You don't see things like that. You feel them, as in all important things; they arrive, they come into your dreams.
  • Emily Rems
    January 1, 1970
    In the time since her exquisite memoir Just Kids won the National Book Award in 2010, godmother of punk Patti Smith has been documenting her travels with her pen and trusty Polaroid. In Year of the Monkey, her wanderlust drives her at age 69 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Arizona to Kentucky to her home in New York where plans for Australia take shape. Along the way, she meets fellow nomads, she mourns for loved ones both in the process of dying and long gone, and she drinks a whole lot of In the time since her exquisite memoir Just Kids won the National Book Award in 2010, godmother of punk Patti Smith has been documenting her travels with her pen and trusty Polaroid. In Year of the Monkey, her wanderlust drives her at age 69 from San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Arizona to Kentucky to her home in New York where plans for Australia take shape. Along the way, she meets fellow nomads, she mourns for loved ones both in the process of dying and long gone, and she drinks a whole lot of coffee.A keen observer of the world around her, Smith is equally adept at documenting her inner terrain. But this travelogue is far more abstract than her previous work. Smith weaves in and out of dreaming and waking life without warning and no matter how real her characters appear, there is no telling when they will be revealed as figments of the author’s imagination. It’s difficult to make peace with Smith as an unreliable narrator after the steadfast clarity of her previous works. But wherever she wanders, it’s always worth the trip.
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  • Jennifer Ardon
    January 1, 1970
    Smith (artist and performer) recounts her experiences in 2016 as she travels across the country, encounters various personalities, and mourns the loss of friends. Often dream-like and stream-of-consciousness, it makes for an interesting read.
  • Tanya
    January 1, 1970
    "Nothing is ever solved. Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but that is mere epiphany." Since I've loved Patti Smith for as long as I can remember, it was clear that I would pick this new memoir up on release day, even though her other recent one, M Train , was a bitter disappointment—I liked this better than that last attempt, but only marginally so, not enough to warrant a full additional star.Everything that worked in Jus "Nothing is ever solved. Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but that is mere epiphany." Since I've loved Patti Smith for as long as I can remember, it was clear that I would pick this new memoir up on release day, even though her other recent one, M Train , was a bitter disappointment—I liked this better than that last attempt, but only marginally so, not enough to warrant a full additional star.Everything that worked in Just Kids ' favor now falls flat. What once could be accepted as the endearing bohemian quirks of a poor, struggling artist, now read as the eccentricities of an aging spinster who, despite her fame and fortune, is still trying to hold on to a different time. Her prose might still exhibit some sparks of introspective beauty every once in a while, but most of the time it feels somewhat contrived, if not exactly insincere. Then, other times, it just reads like gibberish. Recognizable reality is woven into Patti's own world of dreams and visions, where fact and fiction blend together in poetry, and I was often torn between wishing I could see things as she does, and thinking that a weird, babbly sort of senility must've caught up with her at last. I had the distinct impression that her mind seemed to aimlessly wander more than it used to when I last saw her live (in the Year of the Goat, the year before the one this memoir concerns itself with), and I can see it reflected in her writing, too. It's a harsh thing, seeing one's heroes grow old.In M Train, she made a point about writing about nothing at all, while there is a certain theme throughout Year of the Monkey, which chronicles her solitary wandering in 2016, coming off a tour, and approaching her seventieth birthday, with her signature polaroids interspersed throughout. It was a year with many unexpected turns that had her grappling with loss, change, and her own aging... and the dramatic results of the US election. While most of the book feels somewhat intangible—it's the dreamy recollection of a turbulent, watershed year, after all—I thought that she finally found her flow and thread towards the end as she muses about mortality... and then the book ends.Part of the charm of her writing has always been the way she writes about the very mundane, but she often takes it too far here—I wish she'd spent less time recounting her meals in grimy diners in minute detail, and more time putting fleeting feelings into words, something she can do so well when she turns her pen and mind to it—I love her art, but I don't care what she had for breakfast on a January morning in 2016. The last few chapters of the book, when she stepped back and considered the larger picture that the changed political landscape entails, and worked in her considerations about death and aging when Sam Shepard passed on, were much more powerful than the dreamlike, stream-of-consciousness musings that preceded it, and they left me dissatisfied, because I wanted more of the good stuff. All in all, it's worth reading if you're a fan, but I found it a meager, stilted offering, somewhat redeemed only by the last quarter, which had some insight to offer, while the rest lacked depth and emotion. I'll keep her records and Just Kids close to my heart, but I unfortunately don't think that her prose is for me, otherwise.—————All my book reviews can be found here · Buy on BookDepository
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Would like to call this a stream of consciousness, but it’s more sub. Dreams mesh in with reality, old friends visited, one possibly dying, as she treks east to west and back again. Conversations with an inn sign and Ernest, who has replaced the antagonistic cowboy of M Train, and other than abandoning her in a dessert, is a much friendlier “ghost” in his parts. Punctuated with her Polaroids, Patti shares meals, plentiful coffee, and mysteries as we follow her into deserts and cafes, onto beache Would like to call this a stream of consciousness, but it’s more sub. Dreams mesh in with reality, old friends visited, one possibly dying, as she treks east to west and back again. Conversations with an inn sign and Ernest, who has replaced the antagonistic cowboy of M Train, and other than abandoning her in a dessert, is a much friendlier “ghost” in his parts. Punctuated with her Polaroids, Patti shares meals, plentiful coffee, and mysteries as we follow her into deserts and cafes, onto beaches and numerous rooms to lay her head. Time with Sam Shepherd is collaborative peace. Appreciated the polite dig at 45 but dismayed by the repeated word, Nescafé!Towards the end (ironic, in itself) there is solemn reference to that election: “All of the resources that could be used to scrape away lead from the walls of crumbling schools, to shelter the homeless, or to clean a foul river. Instead, one candidate desperately shovels money down a pit, and the other builds empty edifices in his own name, another kind of immoral waste.” - “The bully bellowed. Silence ruled. Twenty-four percent of the population had elected the worst of ourselves to represent the other seventy-six percent. All hail our American apathy, all hail the twisted wisdom of the electoral college.” And then, ominously “Pesticides will be a food group. No songbirds, no wildflowers. Nothing but collapsing hives and lines of the rich getting ready to board a ship for a night on the moon.”Her epilogue had me crying... such loss, continuing.“Will the children of the future never taste the sweetness of brotherhood?”
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    Patti Smith is the quintessential bohemian. When I read about the books and music and poetry and art and clothing she likes, it describes exactly what I would have pictured when I first learned that bohemianism was a thing. Even the places she chooses to live, with leaky roofs and weird furniture and seemingly everything falling apart, speak to her unconventional nature. She's not trying to be cool or trendy. It's just who she is. One night she can't sleep, so she takes the top sheet off her bed Patti Smith is the quintessential bohemian. When I read about the books and music and poetry and art and clothing she likes, it describes exactly what I would have pictured when I first learned that bohemianism was a thing. Even the places she chooses to live, with leaky roofs and weird furniture and seemingly everything falling apart, speak to her unconventional nature. She's not trying to be cool or trendy. It's just who she is. One night she can't sleep, so she takes the top sheet off her bed, tacks it to the wall, and starts painting on it! I think what I enjoy most about reading her work is that she is so far removed from everything I know about. Not just her tastes, but also the way she lives her life. How many 69-year-old women do you know who would take rides from complete strangers to get from San Francisco to San Diego? I liked portions of this book, but I found the narrative a bit choppy, especially because she slips into descriptions of her vivid dream sequences without telling us. So it's hard to tell what really happened and what she dreamed. I've never cared much for hearing people tell about their elaborate dreams. I definitely enjoyed her Polaroid photos scattered throughout the book, though. It made me wish for a Polaroid camera of my own.
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  • Vivian
    January 1, 1970
    Year in review, 2016, Patti Smith style.Which monkey would you rather be? he asked. The one that sees, speaks or hears no evil? I felt vaguely sick, afraid of making the wrong choice.This is a dreamy, free-flowing perspective of how 2016 raveled and unraveled for Smith. I'm still reading 'Just Kids', which I had put aside early this year, but that same sense of personal resonance and elegiac tribute to lost friends rings true here. [O]ne cannot ask for a life, or two lives. One can only warrant Year in review, 2016, Patti Smith style.Which monkey would you rather be? he asked. The one that sees, speaks or hears no evil? I felt vaguely sick, afraid of making the wrong choice.This is a dreamy, free-flowing perspective of how 2016 raveled and unraveled for Smith. I'm still reading 'Just Kids', which I had put aside early this year, but that same sense of personal resonance and elegiac tribute to lost friends rings true here. [O]ne cannot ask for a life, or two lives. One can only warrant the hope of an increasing potency in each man's heart.I was still moving within an atmosphere of artificial brightness with corrosive edges, the hyperreality of a polarizing pre-election mudslide, an avalanche of toxicity infiltrating every outpost. I wiped the shit from my shoes again and again, still going about my business, that of being alive, the best I could.
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  • Carolyn Wood
    January 1, 1970
    So, can you call something pretentious if you also think that the author believes their own...stuff? I loved Just Kids, though I know some of that love was because I once lived in Greenwich Village and the East Village. M Train was pretty good. I enjoyed it. I thought Devotion was just awful. Some sort of southern New Jersey version of bad Russian literature. The charm of Patti Smith is that she still is enraptured by the things that enraptured her when she was 16. Some sort of punk-beatnik-Thea So, can you call something pretentious if you also think that the author believes their own...stuff? I loved Just Kids, though I know some of that love was because I once lived in Greenwich Village and the East Village. M Train was pretty good. I enjoyed it. I thought Devotion was just awful. Some sort of southern New Jersey version of bad Russian literature. The charm of Patti Smith is that she still is enraptured by the things that enraptured her when she was 16. Some sort of punk-beatnik-Theatre of the Absurd-French existentialist-renaissance fair with a dash of anime, that she unironically lifts a toast of Sanka to. It's also her downfall. I was so ready to love everything she ever wrote, but this is pretentious drivel. Try to find her recent performance at Minetta Lane and watch that instead. There are some good phrases here and there in Year of the Monkey, so I gave her an extra star, but about one-third of the way through, I abandoned this book.
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  • Andrew Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Since publishing her memoir Just Kids, Patti Smith has moved on to writing a number of dream-like first-person narratives that mix near-fact and fiction in an absorbing and fascinating style. On the surface the stories seem to match her real-life activities quite closely, but the details of her working life are mostly erased, as are the many people she interacts with. A few real people do appear - in this book mostly Sam Shepard, Sandy Pearlman and Lenny Kaye - but mostly the book is occupied by Since publishing her memoir Just Kids, Patti Smith has moved on to writing a number of dream-like first-person narratives that mix near-fact and fiction in an absorbing and fascinating style. On the surface the stories seem to match her real-life activities quite closely, but the details of her working life are mostly erased, as are the many people she interacts with. A few real people do appear - in this book mostly Sam Shepard, Sandy Pearlman and Lenny Kaye - but mostly the book is occupied by non-specific or dreamed characters. Nevertheless the book does move forward at a good pace, the locations are painted in a poetic and entertaining way, and it is a genuine page-turner. After one reading I'd say that this is even better than M Train and Devotion, and will not disappoint anyone who has enjoyed those books.
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  • Misha
    January 1, 1970
    While neither of her subsequent memoirs have, in my mind, held a candle to the consummately written Just Kids, Patti Smith is still a worthy literary companion. Smith is the endless wanderer, a writer and thinker who imbues every chance meeting with magic and grace, an artist who talks to and takes rides with strangers, and photographs the alchemy of small moments. There is a lot to be learned from a woman who on the cusp of turning 70 has not closed herself off to new experiences and perspectiv While neither of her subsequent memoirs have, in my mind, held a candle to the consummately written Just Kids, Patti Smith is still a worthy literary companion. Smith is the endless wanderer, a writer and thinker who imbues every chance meeting with magic and grace, an artist who talks to and takes rides with strangers, and photographs the alchemy of small moments. There is a lot to be learned from a woman who on the cusp of turning 70 has not closed herself off to new experiences and perspectives. In exploring the death and illness of two dear friends, each essay ruminates on the end of life while reveling in the details of being alive--the comforts of good books and a solid cup of coffee. These vignettes are lovely if disjointed, but, again just make me want to return to the raw intimacy of the memoir of her earlier years.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    "We stood on either side of him, promising to mentally hold on to him, keep an open channel, ready to intercept and accept any signal. Not just shards of love, as Sandy would say, but the whole goblet.""This is what I know. Sam is dead. My brother is dead. My mother is dead. My father is dead. My husband is dead. My cat is dead. My dog who was dead in 1957 is still dead. Yet still I keep thinking that something wonderful is about to happen. Maybe tomorrow. A tomorrow following a whole succession "We stood on either side of him, promising to mentally hold on to him, keep an open channel, ready to intercept and accept any signal. Not just shards of love, as Sandy would say, but the whole goblet.""This is what I know. Sam is dead. My brother is dead. My mother is dead. My father is dead. My husband is dead. My cat is dead. My dog who was dead in 1957 is still dead. Yet still I keep thinking that something wonderful is about to happen. Maybe tomorrow. A tomorrow following a whole succession of tomorrows."This book, written in the Year of the Monkey (2016), was heartbreaking in that two of Smith's closest and longtime friends after long illnesses passed away. And yet, after a lifetime of loss, she still finds hope and beauty in the world.
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  • Jeimy
    January 1, 1970
    I love Patti Smith, which is perhaps why I thoroughly enjoyed the dreamlike journey she creates in this book. Whereas her previous biographies have taken us back into time, they were much more factual that this book. Here, I felt like a voyeur mesmerized by the inner workings of the author's minds. While there is a part of me that knows that everyone has the opportunity to do the same. It felt like a privilege. It felt like an honor.My review is a bit late because I waited until it was published I love Patti Smith, which is perhaps why I thoroughly enjoyed the dreamlike journey she creates in this book. Whereas her previous biographies have taken us back into time, they were much more factual that this book. Here, I felt like a voyeur mesmerized by the inner workings of the author's minds. While there is a part of me that knows that everyone has the opportunity to do the same. It felt like a privilege. It felt like an honor.My review is a bit late because I waited until it was published to listen to the author. As is always the case with Smith's books, the trip is more magical with her mellifluous voice guiding the way.Yes, to this book.Yes, to Patti Smith.Thank you to the publisher for the privilege of reading this before others had the chance to purchase it.
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  • Steve Hinkle
    January 1, 1970
    I have read Just Kids, The M Train, and now this most recent memoir. All are very different. It’s memoir crossed with magic realism. She has an ongoing dialogue with a motel sign. But what really distinguished this book is the blurring of Smith’s waking life, dream life and fantasy life. The reader who tries to separate the three will only grow frustrated here. Smith uses her insomnia to great effect. There are fantasies she uses to induce sleep, then dreams, then she half awakes, or does she co I have read Just Kids, The M Train, and now this most recent memoir. All are very different. It’s memoir crossed with magic realism. She has an ongoing dialogue with a motel sign. But what really distinguished this book is the blurring of Smith’s waking life, dream life and fantasy life. The reader who tries to separate the three will only grow frustrated here. Smith uses her insomnia to great effect. There are fantasies she uses to induce sleep, then dreams, then she half awakes, or does she continue to dream. I usually don’t go in for this sort of thing, but this worked for me. Still, it’s a slight book and In my mind it loses one star on degree of difficulty.
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  • Katy Wheatley
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Just Kids. I still love it. It remains an absolute icon of autobiographical writing. This however, I really struggled with. It's a kind of memoir, it's kind of a meditation, it's kind of poetic, it's kind of an exploration of grief and ageing and the state of the nation. It slithers and slides all over the place. It reminded me rather of the writing of the Beat poets. Times, places, people all crash into and off of each other. I found it interesting, but also difficult and I put it down I loved Just Kids. I still love it. It remains an absolute icon of autobiographical writing. This however, I really struggled with. It's a kind of memoir, it's kind of a meditation, it's kind of poetic, it's kind of an exploration of grief and ageing and the state of the nation. It slithers and slides all over the place. It reminded me rather of the writing of the Beat poets. Times, places, people all crash into and off of each other. I found it interesting, but also difficult and I put it down more than I picked it up.
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  • Wm. Anthony Connolly
    January 1, 1970
    A far out farrago from our punk Rimbaud, Patti Smith. The book, a mix of fact and folly, charts 2016 and Smith’s sojourns, ruminations and her losses. A writer’s book. I listened to the audio book today travelling across the South narrated by Patti herself and it’s great even when she pronounces pillow as pillar and yellow as yeller. Patti can wrest a yarn out of anything. It might bore some but not me; it’s like as if I was like having eggs, beans and black coffee with a friend who fills hersel A far out farrago from our punk Rimbaud, Patti Smith. The book, a mix of fact and folly, charts 2016 and Smith’s sojourns, ruminations and her losses. A writer’s book. I listened to the audio book today travelling across the South narrated by Patti herself and it’s great even when she pronounces pillow as pillar and yellow as yeller. Patti can wrest a yarn out of anything. It might bore some but not me; it’s like as if I was like having eggs, beans and black coffee with a friend who fills herself with an unbridled curiosity and compassion for the sensual life. And is only willing to share.
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  • Joseph Spuckler
    January 1, 1970
    Patti Smith is back with a story told in her own style --part real and part "dream." There is talk of books and old friends, talk of the past and politics, and mysteries and good books. Smith is quickly becoming the last (wo)man standing from the New York punk scene. In fact, she loses two friends in telling the story of her 69th year. Full enjoyment of the book comes from the audio edition read by the author.
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  • Don Gorman
    January 1, 1970
    (2). It is going to take a certain kind of reader to really enjoy this book. Not nearly as story based as just kids, or even M squad for that matter. This one gets pretty stream of consciousness in nature and is a little hard to get through. Smith has a wonderful command of language and does paint some truly engaging and meaningful images with words, but it is very introspective in nature. Reasonable stuff.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    “Nothing is ever solved, Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but this is more epiphany.” A journey through the dreams and losses in Patti Smith's life in her 70th year, Year of the Monkey reads like a mystery, and an elegy, and a travelogue, and a dream book which would tell you what number to bet based on your dreams if only it could remember the numbers.
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  • Thomas Lowe
    January 1, 1970
    I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved JUST KIDS, and I really liked M TRAIN. I was drawn into YEAR OF THE MONKEY from the get-go. I believed it. Did these things really happen? I have no reason to believe they didn't. I loved the quirky people she meets and the odd experiences she has. She approaches it all as if there is nothing unusual to any of it. Maybe there is nothing unusual to any of it. Maybe Smith sees this exquisite world that the rest of us miss.
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  • Kari Ann
    January 1, 1970
    What a cool documentation of a year in the life of Patti Smith. Not your average memoir. She weaves dream, philosophy, existential angst, art appreciation, literary criticism, mysticism, synchronicity, and good old fashioned emotions into the tale of complex genius taking life as it comes. Sometimes I wasn't sure what was reality and what was dream, but I don't know if Patti Smith even knew. I loved this time lapse Polaroid of her year and a peek into her subconscious.
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  • Shazzad
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful meditation by Patti on the year she turned 70 (2015 into 2016). It an evocation of her friendships particularly with Sandy Pearlman and Sam Shepard written in a beautiful dreamlike quality and interspersed with her own photography. A little treasure of a book.Thanks to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for a review copy.
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  • justjotter
    January 1, 1970
    As always, extraordinary and thought provoking. This woman. Read it in a day. Couldn’t help myself. Surely will reread in a few days. Each time something magical comes to light. Each read a revelation.
  • Neil McGee
    January 1, 1970
    A enjoyable read, a chill, 60's vibe where everything is here to be enjoyed & discovered.Thank you for allowing me to experience this journey through your eyes.I enjoyed the smooth flowing, fluent writing style.A good read.
  • Priscilla
    January 1, 1970
    I suppose whether you like this book or not depends on how much time you like to spend in Patti Smith's interior world. For me, reading this feels as if one of my best friends handed me her diary to read.
  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    I love a Patti Smith book. Getting to see the world through her eyes is a joy and I’m always very lonely and sad when her books end. The way she notices the world around her is true art and I’m so grateful she writes it down and shares it with us.
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