Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PATTI SMITH | Reading M Train

I'm reading Patti Smith's M Train slowly, allowing her voice to flow through me. This is what happens when the writer has a distinct "voice" in their writing. I stop, and I want to "listen" to that voice in my head. I want the process to be comfortable, and allow it as much time as it needs. That's how I feel right now as I'm reading M Train.

My bias for travel makes me think of this book as travel writing. Yes, in this book, she writes about the various places she had been. She doesn't quite do the usual tourist destinations. There is a method to her journeys, and it is usually to follow the footsteps of a writer, or an artist. She took a photo of Frida Kahlo's bed, she took a photo of the chair Robert Bolano sat in. She traveled to laid stones on Jean Genet's grave.

I am reminded of how someone asked me last year, after my trip to Paris - Did you visit the Eiffel Tower? No, I did not. And there was a questioning look. Who goes to Paris and not go see the Eiffel Tower?

But why do I need to? Our journey is ours, and all we truly need to do, is to listen to the whispers in our hearts. To follow that voice that tells us where to go, and what to see. Who cares what is written in the guide books or tripadvisor? Your own yearning should be the true compass.

This is why I enjoy this series of Patti Smith's journeys. She is guided by her own yearnings, her own idiosyncrasies. There is not greater testimony to a life lived true to oneself.

2014 Interview with Carrie Brownstein

I'm waiting for Carrie Brownstein's memoir to arrive at the local bookstores. As the publicity rolls out for the book, I found this 2014 interview with Carrie - it's great to see her articulate, witty, and very, very funny.

She just makes you want to pack up and move to Portland:

Interviewer: “Do you have a distinct impression of Portland when you were growing up?”

Carrie: “No, I didn’t even know it existed.”

Carrie: “Portland is a city, seems like it’s designed by an eight year old. If you imagine asking a kid like, ‘What do you want for your city?’

‘Well, I want my house to painted blue. With a yellow trim. And all the buildings will look like Lego. All the people will wait in line. To vote? No, for ice cream. And, you know what? I’ll never have to dress up. I’ll never have to put on a suit. All the adults will play bass guitars. And have a donut shop. What will the donuts be shaped like? Like penises’.”

And I have not met many people who truly use 'flummoxed' in conversation. Well played.

Friday, October 02, 2015

New York Times, on Patti Smith's M Train

Michiko Kakutani, on Patti Smith's M Train:

“M Train” feels more like a look at the past through a rearview mirror. Ms. Smith writes of feeling “a longing for the way things were.” She writes about ghosts drawing us away from the present. She writes about singing “What a Wonderful World” for Fred at his memorial service and she writes about realizing that she is now older than Fred when he died — and older than many of her departed friends.

“I’m going to remember everything,” she thinks, “and then I’m going to write it all down. An aria to a coat. A requiem for a cafe.” An eloquent — and a deeply moving — elegy for what she has “lost and cannot find” but can remember in words.

[ Full essay ]