Patti Smith announces new memoir, M Train

The follow-up to Just Kids travels with the singer through ‘dreams and reality’, ‘reflections on the writer’s craft’ and key memories, including her life in Michigan with her late husband, Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith

The follow-up to Patti Smith’s award-winning biography Just Kids will be published this autumn. Entitled M Train, the book describes a number of the most significant turning points in the artist’s life, stopping by at 18 “stations” – many of which appear to be cafes.

The book’s cover is a photograph of Smith sat at the now closed Café ‘Ino. Her story begins at the Greenwich Village hideout, a spot where Smith would “ruminate on the world as it is and the world as it was”, said her publisher, according to Pitchfork.

The premise continues: “We then travel, through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations: 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. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation, alongside signature memories including her life in Michigan with her husband, guitarist Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, whose untimely death was an irremediable loss.”

Due out on 6 October, M Train will also contain black-and-white self-portraits taken by the songwriter.

In 2012, Smith said that she intended on writing a more “music-based” book after the success of Just Kids. “I just reached social security age, but I’m far from retiring,” Smith told Billboard. “I don’t have a big rock’n’roll lifestyle, a sex, drugs and rock’n’roll story to tell. I think I have maybe a better story. Through rock’n’roll I travelled the world, worked with my late brother and, best of all, that’s how I met Fred. It changed my life in many unexpected ways, so I have my story to tell.”

Just Kids, which tells the story of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, won the United States’ National book award for non-fiction and has been hailed as one of rock music’s finest memoirs. An earlier collection of autobiographical sketches, Woolgathering, was published in 1992.


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