Friday, February 24, 2017

THE CEPHALOPOD COFFEEHOUSE: M TRAIN BY PATTI SMITH

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,



Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun. This blog hop is hosted by The Armchair Squid. Click on the link to sign up and join us.

I admit I didn't finish M Train by Patti Smith during the past month, but I've wanted to share this book with you for a while. I'm also not good at following rules––unless they're grammatical.




I have a thing for Patti Smith. It's the kind of love that began slowly and then grabbed me by the throat. She's so . . . Patti Smith. Poet, performer, songwriter, winner of The National Book Award for Just Kids, photographer, High Priestess of Punk, mother, widow.

In M Train, Smith allows us to travel with her as she has the honor of photographing artist Frida Kahlo's belongings in Mexico, attends the meeting of an Arctic Explorer's Society in Berlin, buys a falling down cottage in Far Rockaway that is alone in surviving Hurricane Sandy, and visits the graves of other artists who are important to her, including that of Sylvia Plath (a pilgrimage I've long wished to make myself).  


As she writes and drinks coffee wherever she goes, it's apparent that the death of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, is never far from her mind. Her images are so hauntingly elegiac that they break my heart. 

But as is turned out I could barely read on the plane. Instead I watched the movie Master and Commander. Captain Jack Aubrey reminded me so much of Fred that I watched it twice. Midflight I began to weep. Just come back, I was thinking. You've been gone long enough. Just come back. I will stop traveling; I will wash your clothes. Mercifully, I fell asleep, and when I awoke snow was falling over Tokyo.

Patti Smith makes me long to just be, and to feel less ashamed of my tears. Loss is such a big part of life, but so is gain.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



42 comments:

  1. I know who Pattie Smith is, but I admit I don't know much about her or her music. I could certainly feel the longing in that short passage.

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    1. I didn't start to learn about her until she won the National Book Award.

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  2. I've heard of Patti Smith but I'm not familiar with her work.

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    1. My son doesn't like her, but I don't think he's read her books.

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  3. Oh Janie what an inspiring post. I wish I had a mind like your and be able to writ what you just did.
    I like Patti Smith but didn't really know anything about her. Oh My Goodness what a life ! What a super interesting book.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Your mind is perfect the way it is, Tall Person who feeds thehamish.

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  4. Punk has never been my favorite genre but I've grown to appreciate it in middle age, oddly enough. Patti Smith is such an unusual figure in the biz, especially as she's managed to reinvent her career in recent years. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for hosting. I'm glad to get back to this.

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  5. Only heard her punk music a couple of times long ago and didn't care for it. Didn't know she did any of the rest and don't know much about her at all. She always looked rough and unwashed to me--like a female Keith Richards. Must be a lot more to her.

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    1. Definitely more to her. Someone who is more interested in words and artistry than the way she looks.

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  6. Because The Night is one of my favorites! After I finish "The Girl on the Train," I will have to check out Patti Smith's book!

    Love,
    Jessica

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    1. I saw the movie of The Girl On The Train. It was scary stuff.

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  7. Wow! That song, that voice, and that excerpt you shared from her book. That gal is busting out all over with talent. The book sounds fantabulous. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Have a super weekend, kiddo.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. She is an amazing artist.

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  8. Ray has been a fan of her music for a long, long time but I never knew much about her life. I may just have to read it now. Sounds very interesting.

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    1. She has such love for the people in her life.

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  9. How sad to be separated from the ones you love. The pain eases, but the missing never seems to go away.

    I used to listen to her music in the 80s. I always liked punk rock.

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    1. Yes. The missing never ends. You are a woman of many interests, Elizabeth Seckman.

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  10. I like the title of her book. From your review, it sounds as if she captures her own sadness associated with loss, something with which most of us can identify.

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  11. Great review and thanks for sharing! It's not really my style of book, but now I know what to recommend to my mother--still suffering grief since my father's passing several years ago. (As the whole family is...but she's more in need of soul comfort.)
    Best,
    Veronica

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    1. I'm sorry for your mom. The end of a long-term relationship is painful.

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  12. I'm only somewhat familiar with Patti Smith, but this book sounds interesting. Not sure it's quite my style, but Patti seems like an interesting enough persona to make it work.

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  13. Damn, you and I seem to have synced up with these posts if you compare your last line and my latest post, "Loss is a big part of life, but so is gain." Also, I hope that you make the phrase, "I'm also not good at following rules––unless they're grammatical." your byline of this blog.
    (Not to be that person, but just as a head's up, I think elegaic is spelled elegiac, the "i" and the "a" are transposed.)

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    1. Thank you, Pickleope. I made repairs and reparations.

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  14. Never heard of her or the book but sounds like something I would like

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  15. It's so difficult to deal with loss. It sounds like this book is a poignant read.

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    1. It is, but I'm fortunate to be able to watch a sad movie or read a poignant book and not feel depressed by it.

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  16. You have a thing for Patti Smith. I can see why. I have a thing for people who are not good at following rules. Do you reckon I need help, Janie? Sylvia Plath... It's been a long time since I read one of her books.

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    1. You don't need help, Blue. I think you're fine. Sylvia Plath and Emily Dickinson are my favorite poets.

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  17. She's a writer, a coffee lover, and judging by those travels, quite possibly The Most Interesting Person in the World™. I might have to check this out.

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  18. She sounds likes she's lived an interesting life.

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  19. Ooh, sounds like a really raw, honest book - that goes to cool places!

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