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Year of the Monkey (Hardcover)

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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 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.

More Information
ISBN 9780525657682
Publisher Random House Inc.
Publication Date Sep 24, 2019
Pages (number) 192
Author Patti Smith
Signed No
Format Hardcover
Editorial Reviews

“Poignant, gorgeous—a picaresque voyage through Patti Smith’s dreams and life, blending fiction and reality, conjured characters and actual ones. She writes of seeing her image reflected on the surface of the toaster: ‘I noticed I looked young and old simultaneously.’ That describes her spirit perfectly.” —Maureen Dowd, The New York Times

“Elegant, poetic, wildly entertaining, touching—a beautifully realized and unique memoir that chronicles a transformative year in the life of one of our most multi-talented creative voices. Part travel journal, part reflexive essay on our times, and part meditation on existence at the edge of a new decade of life . . . Effortlessly weaving together fiction and nonfiction, Smith takes readers on two unique journeys: one that can be traced on a map and one, infinitely richer and more complex, that takes place inside her head and heart. Smith’s musical career sometimes threatens to overshadow her accomplishments in other creative fields—but every page in this book is packed with enough outstanding prose to constantly remind readers that Smith is an accomplished novelist, essayist, and poet who won the National Book Award in 2010. In her capable hands, a simple look at New York City in winter becomes a flash of beautiful poetry. Smith's approach to nonfiction is unique and brave: It counts as true if it happened, if she imagined it, and if she felt it. This is a book about Smith and the world all around. And that is just one more reason why everyone should read it.” —Gabino Iglesias, NPR

“Moving—an account of physical and intellectual wanderings . . . Smith does not rage against her approaching 70th birthday, nor does she turn away from it. She finds art everywhere, and remains a pioneer, the same rules-shattering poet and National Book Award-winning writer . . . She is, as she writes in Year of the Monkey, ‘still going about my business, that of being alive, the best I can.’” —Jack Cline, The Washington Post

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