What Dreams May Come: Patti Smith’s “Year of the Monkey”
by Adam Perry for Scene Magazine 10/11/2019
Patti Smith’s debut novel, the autobiographical Just Kids, is already a true American classic, although it’s less than a decade old. The book viscerally and magically transports readers to a time when young, penniless, passionate artists could move to America’s biggest, most exciting and possibility filled cities and “make it” on the basis of nothing but talent, uncompromising work ethic, and unstoppable dreams.
Year of the Monkey, released a few weeks ago, shifts the setting to 2016, with Smith traveling around America alone and with friends, ranging from the late writer Sam Shepard to some eccentric young folks she meets after wandering into a pier café in San Diego. Though the setting is many years and locations, apart from Just Kids, Smith’s infectious, open, and inspired writing style is maintained. Passages about doing nothing more than holing up in crummy beachside California motels retain the welcoming, raw magic of not only Just Kids but Smith’s hugely influential songwriting and performing.
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