Year of the Monkey

Category: Book
By (author): Smith, Patti
Subject:  BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Composers & Musicians
  LITERARY CRITICISM / Books & Reading
  NON-FICTION / General
Publisher: Knopf Random Vintage Canada
Published: September 2019
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 192
Size: 7.87in x 5.12in

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*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.

"Intriguing, disturbing yet humorous, with the boundary between fiction and nonfiction blurred, Smith's work is unlikely to disappoint." -The Millions

"Captivating . . . a chronicle of a year filled with deep losses and rich epiphanies. The titular year, 2016, set Smith, [who] refers to herself as the ‘poet detective,' on a quixotic quest, with a mysterious companion unexpectedly reappearing amid a backdrop of rock touring, vagabond traveling, and a poisonous political landscape. Throughout, Smith ponders time and mortality-no surprise considering her milestone birthday, and the experience of losing friends who have meant so much to her. She stresses the importance of memory, and the timeless nature of a person's spirit . . . Redemptive." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The warmth and curiosity with which Patti Smith observes her own life makes her one of the finest living companions to living. . . . [T]his diary of change and destruction is at once a solace and a charge to double down on love." -Literary Hub


"[An] atmospheric, moody, and bittersweet memoir to be savored and pondered." -Kirkus Reviews

"[M Train] belong[s] on the front table, if not in the pantheon. . . . [A]n eccentric bildungsroman of taste." -Vulture

"[T]he most lively meditation on the act-and art-of living one is likely to find this year. . . . [V]ery poetic and original, almost like a prose version of one of [Smith's] songs." -Toronto Star

"Smith is a very fine writer indeed, and her ‘nothing' will afford the reader a charming, melancholy, at times frustrating, yet strangely welcoming something special. You'll read this book and wish you knew Patti Smith. . . . [A] generous, intimate dialogue with times both before and after [Smith's] own time in this world." -The Globe and Mail

"[I]f . . . you haven't read Patti Smith's second memoir, M Train, you're missing out. Smith's book . . . is a literary marvel." -Seattle Weekly

"[Smith] writes so beautifully. . . . Words are her art, and she deploys them magnificently." -The Sydney Morning Herald
Biographical NotePATTI SMITH is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Gallery since 1978. Her books include Just Kids, winner of the National Book Award in 2010, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, Auguries of Innocence, M Train, and Devotion. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Smith married the musician Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit in 1980. They had a son, Jackson, and a daughter, Jesse. Smith resides in New York City.