M Train

Knopf. Oct. 2015. 272p. photos. ISBN 9781101875100. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781101875117. MEMOIR
This unusual memoir is a blend of adventures, the everyday, travels, dreams, and reflections on writing, creativity, and life. Smith (National Book Award winner for Just Kids; Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee) is an original. She shares detail-rich scenes of her tiny Rockaway Beach bungalow before and after Hurricane Sandy; an encounter with chess master Bobby Fischer in Iceland; presenting a talk for an explorers' organization in Berlin; visiting the graves of Yukio Mishima and Jean Genet; an imaginary conversation with the bust of Nikola Tesla; her favorite corner spot in Café 'Ino in Greenwich Village; and, especially, her event-filled and joyous time with husband Fred "Sonic" Smith before his passing in 1994. Those seeking a conventional autobiography of this writer/performer/artist will not find it here—and a traditional presentation isn't Smith's intent. Her creatively structured approach conveys the essence of Smith, whose writing style is musical in texture, often cinematic in description, and always eloquent. She weaves insightful ponderings on literature, cafés, music, TV, art, childhood, place, and more into the selected episodes of her life. Her trademark Polaroid photos, interspersed throughout, add a strikingly appealing touch.
VERDICT In many ways, this book defies categorizing, and that is one of its many charms. It is absorbing and lingers long after its end. Fans of Smith will enjoy this as will writers, artists, and all those inspired by a creative mind. For circulating collections. [See Prepub Alert, 4/6/15.]

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