Year of the Monkey: Book summary and reviews of Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Year of the Monkey

by Patti Smith

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith X
Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Sep 24, 2019
    192 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Smith discovers that her most meaningful insights come from her vivid dreams, and she feels a palpable melancholia over having to wake up from them. Smith casts a mesmerizing spell with exquisite prose." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A captivating, redemptive chronicle of a year in which Smith looked intently into the abyss." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Smith writes with fresh lucidity, wit, bittersweet wonder, and stoic sorrow, shifting in tone from lyrical to hallucinatory to hard-boiled as she describes her meditative and investigative meanderings along the Pacific coast and in the desert...Elegiac, vital, and magical." - Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

"Intriguing—a memoir that evolves around the transformations both in Smith's life and the American political landscape. Disturbing yet humorous, with the boundary between fiction and nonfiction blurred, Smith's work is unlikely to disappoint." - Jianan Qian, The Millions

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Author Information

Patti Smith

Patti Smith is the author of Just Kids, which won the National Book Award in 2010, and of M Train, as well as numerous collections of poetry and essays. Her seminal album Horses has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres; she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

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