Year of the Monkey

Knopf. Sept. 2019. 192p. ISBN 9780525657682. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525657699. MEMOIR
The year 2016 was one of profound change. Between the deaths of numerous pop culture icons and the U.S. presidential election, it felt to many as though we were entering a whole new sense of reality. Similarly, for musician and author Smith (Just Kids), these events and her own personal losses were forming a new reality all its own. This memoir of that surreal year moves among events in Smith’s life, dreamlike conversations with the dead, explorations of the past, and journeys with imaginary companions. Smith’s gift for memoir, a natural extension of her work as a lyricist and poet, is once again apparent. Whether describing great works of art or her breakfast, Smith’s straightforward use of language to evoke a mood or place make her flights in and out of dream states seamless. There is nothing pretentious or condescending about her writing, despite the literary and artistic allusions. Her words are for anyone.
VERDICT Fans of Smith’s extensive body of work and those who enjoy well-crafted personal narratives will find much to love in this brief and vibrant book.

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