Year of the Monkey

Year of the Monkey Review

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.

Title:Year of the Monkey
Edition Language:English

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    Year of the Monkey Reviews

  • Cheri

    ”Marcus Aurelius asks us to note the passing of time with open eyes. Ten thousand years or ten thousand days, nothing can stop time, or change the fact that I would be turning seventy in the Year o...

  • PorshaJo

    I love Patti Smith. I got to see her talk on a book tour of her last book M Train. It was great, part lecture, part reading, and part concert of her singing some great music. Ha, that's lots of parts....

  • Chris Molnar

    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 st...

  • Joseph Spuckler

    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 quick...

  • Leslie Ray

    Reading this was like being apart someone's dream with insight into their reflections and thoughts while with the feeling of suspension in time that dreams often evoke. Patti Smith writes about the ye...

  • Richard Santos

    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, inspire...

  • Sarah

    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 hitc...

  • Tyler Goodson

    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 onc...

  • Harry McDonald

    “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...

  • Jules Kelly

    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, th...