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M Train

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  33,436 ratings  ·  3,114 reviews
M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, we travel to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico; to the fertile moon terrain of Iceland; to a ramshackle seaside ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Knopf
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Jeaninne Escallier Kato Patti is such a chameleon that it is impossible to compare the two, but I'll try: Just Kids is a narrative of two friends frozen in the golden age of …morePatti is such a chameleon that it is impossible to compare the two, but I'll try: Just Kids is a narrative of two friends frozen in the golden age of rock and art; M Train is being a witness to someone's private thoughts and feelings put to poetry. I loved them both for different reasons.(less)
Jeaninne Escallier Kato Writing for me is the process of switching to my Reptilian brain. Once my fingers start moving, I have no idea what will appear; however, I can direct…moreWriting for me is the process of switching to my Reptilian brain. Once my fingers start moving, I have no idea what will appear; however, I can direct my thoughts once they start flowing into a chronology that makes sense to me.(less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Kelsey Landhuis
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I can't believe Patti Smith wrote a book about drinking black coffee and watching serial crime dramas and it's the best thing I've ever read. ...more
"Life is at the bottom of things and belief at the top, while the creative impulse, dwelling in the center, informs all."

- Patti Smith, M Train


My second Patti Smith memoir. This one was more experimental and nonlinear than Just Kids (which still wasn't exactly linear). It was filled with dreams, detective shows, talismans, cats, constant travels, coffee, more coffee, missing things, memories, loose threads, graveyards, hotels, photographs, and miles and miles of beautiful, lyrical Patti Smith
Elyse  Walters
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I listen to Patti Smith's audible. The very first thing I notice was her
voice. Her raspy eastern accent was mesmerizing.

As I was walking, I could picture Patti in the cafe she sat drinking coffee.
She says..."It's not so easy writing about nothing".
Easy or not ...I had a warm smile on my face listening to everything she had to say - at times aching -and soooo loving this woman.

There is a mystery about Patti Smith... which adds to her beauty.
Her mind is fascinating. A coffee drinker, loner,
Diane S ☔
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sometimes the right book finds us at the right time. For me this was the book. No linear, no plot to speak of, just musings and meanderings of a creative woman. Search for the perfect coffee, cafés, Hurricane Sandy, her obsession with detective shows and the way she enters into the lives of authors and novels. At times her writing is poetic, at others very poignant, especially when thinking or remembering her husband, Fred and her children when they were young. Her photography, travels, conferen ...more
What's the point of reading books? Do they really help? Sometimes – compulsively turning pages to lift your mood – you have to wonder. I think often of a line I read once in an Orhan Pamuk novel: ‘Books, which we mistake for consolation, only add depth to our sorrow.’ That hurts so much that you feel there must be something to it.

It's been quite some time now since the fascination and joy I get from books could be ascribed to youthful enthusiasm, but I still worry that I'll reach some older, wis
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
In my life I have had various musical periods where I would want to listen to one artist exclusively for a period of time, exhausting myself on listening over and over again to all the media I could get. There was a long Led Zeppelin period back in HS, also a Doors period and The Police. In college I had a REM period and U2. At other times, sporadically over the years I have experienced this binge listening and I always enjoy the time, its like meeting a new friend and wanting to spend all of yo ...more
Julie Christine
Reading the lovely Proustian interlude that is M Train, I felt like a shadow-angel trailing Patti Smith, from Café 'Ino down the block from her New York apartment to the far-flung places in her past and present that twirl like ribbons in her poetry, her songs, her art. M Train is a meditation on this artist's life, more kaleidoscope than memoir, a shifting wonder that spills pieces of colored glass memories.

The clarity of Patti Smith's language, the fragility of her voice, made me want to wrap
Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch once said in an interview that if all culture breaks down, he's following Patti Smith. Much of the pleasure of reading Smith's nostalgic M Train is that it offers fascinating insights into her interior life, her dreams, her quixotic travel adventures, her literary obsessions (listed in my Comment below), and her minimalist, bohemian tastes for such things as black coffee, brown bread with olive oil, Polaroids, word games, moleskines, detective stories, and her favorite bla ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, non-fiction
I can't believe how much more I enjoyed this upon re-reading it. The years grow on you and Patti Smith's writing grew on me too; I admire her so much and this book, though a bit listless, is so beautifully written. Her sentiments are profound and admirable, and though I could never truly take a look insider her head this feels, for only an instant, that I can. 4.5 stars

Original review:

In M Train, Patti Smith creates something deeply personal and lyrically beautiful, but not something that wil
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A very quiet, elegiac book, memories linked one to the next--that's the train, the M train. In tone it reminded me more of the works of W.G. Sebald than of her earlier book Just Kids. It has none of the exuberance of that memoir of youth--in which she recaptured the tone, the feeling, of youth. This is the voice, the mind, of an older person looking back through a tangible scrim of loss. And yet, her memories are very much a child showing you the contents of his pockets, his array of child-treas ...more
I thrived on this one as she shared how she was influenced by certain books that I favor and suceeded in engaging me on surprising adventures and missions, even ones I would I never consider for myself. She believes in details of writings and specific places as portals that allow one to channel people one cares about. That was a thrill when it came to elements of books I loved like Bolano’s “2666” and Murakami’s “Windup Bird Chronicle” and appetizing for others not yet read, like Bulgakov’s “Mas ...more
Steven Godin

Oh Patti! you didn't half give me the munchies whilst reading this. Lost count of the amount of times brown toast dipped in olive oil was mentioned. That happens to be one of my favourite snacks! And what about the craving for coffee. A girl after my own heart is she! Bucket loads of coffee! Apart from a cup of sake, there wasn't much mention of alcoholic. Which for me was a good thing, as I didn't have any in at the time and the last thing I wanted was to read this licking my lips at the mentio
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My 2nd audiobook and it was Patti Smith again... I just love listening to her.
We are taken around the globe 🌎 in her memories and reflections of the past and I especially enjoyed the memories of her husband Fred Sonic Smith and her life here in Michigan.
I saw Patti Smith speak about this book on her book tour. At the event, I got a copy of the book. In fact, some how I ended up with two copies. And then, I carried that book with me everywhere. I traveled a lot for work, always taking this book, starting it, getting distracted, and then it sat there. I hesitated on the audio book since I have the print. But honestly, there is no better way to 'read' a Patti Smith book that to have her narrate it to you. So I finally caved, audio it was, and it w ...more
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Poetic, Meandering Meditation on Loneliness, Love, and Loss

Patti Smith's latest memoir, M Train, is more rambling and poetic, less coherent and focused than "Just Kids". Yet, I found it almost as moving, but in an entirely different way. "Just Kids" was an emotional tribute to a beautiful connection between two twin souls, Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. "M Train" covers wider ground.

The M train actually exists in the NY City subway. I'd forgotten it. I may have ridden it once (if ever). It
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
"M Train" is perhaps one of the most romantic books of being a writer, and those who likes to read. What can be better than reading and writing in a small hip cafe, and watching the world go by. And on top of that, visit every cool writer's grave site - from Europe to Japan. Patti Smith is not a hard person to figure out. She conveys the spirit of being a book nerd as well as a rock n' roll lunatic. In many ways, it's a very simple image of a writer/artist. Yet it is the simple aspect of it that ...more
I remember this tv commercial where a guy comes down the stairs, he is dressed and has his luggage in hand. He stops in the foyer, picks up a dart and throws it at a map of the world on the wall. The idea being that he has the time and resources to travel anywhere at any time. Well, that's Patti Smith, but instead of darts she uses random thoughts, or passages from books, or memories. She is always on the move, both physically and spiritually, seemingly trying to soothe her battered and tortured ...more
Kevin Shepherd
“Writers and their process. Writers and their books. I cannot assume the reader will be familiar with them all, but in the end is the reader familiar with me? Does the reader wish to be so? I can only hope, as I offer my world on a platter filled with allusions.”

Patti Smith and I have many of the same notions and ideas. We both like to ponder the writings of Plath, the philosophies of Nietzsche, and the enigmas of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Her illustrations are a trove of Polaroid treasures: l
Vicky "phenkos"
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Patti Smith is precious. She is not a writer - but she's also a writer. She's a rock star but of an unusual kind. She's a poet but also a photographer and visual artist. She's that person that elides all these categories revealing possibilities that eschew the usual "she's this or that". Patti Smith is this and that, and many other things besides. More importantly, she's this and that (girl but also tomboy, woman but also an androgynous person) without being someome out there that has nothing to ...more
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Patti Smith could write about anything and make it sound like poetry. After completing this book I immediately felt the need to luxuriate in her words again. It reads like a sublime dream. Haunting and reflective. Such is her gift of writing and embodying emotions of wonder for the everyday ordinary as well as the extraordinary. God I love her.
Apr 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much! Loved learning of her travels, her favorite coffee shop, her husband and their relationship, etc. I looked up many people and places. How interesting and enjoyable it would be to sit, drink coffee (or a shot of tequila) and have a conversation with her.

I listened to this one and now I might have to “reread” Just Kids on audio to have Patti tell me the story in her voice instead of my own.

PS - Her singing voice is one of my favorites! 🙂🎤
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
‘I’m sure I could write endlessly about nothing. If only I had nothing to say.’

Patti Smith carries us through her esoteric stories of the past and present in this short story/essay collection. M Train reads like an internal journey, a solo exploration. She recalls cafes visited all around the world, writing or simply sitting and reminiscing while drinking an insane amount of coffee that makes my own addiction to caffeine seem laughable. While Smith seems completely content with her own compa
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I’ve been staring at a blank review box for like ten minutes, trying to figure out how to summarize Patti Smith’s M Train, and I still have no idea what to say. For one thing, there’s not really a plot. It’s just Patti Smith, talking about authors who have influenced her and describing the trips she took to visit their past homes, or their workspaces, but most often their graves. She also tells you about coffee shops she’s visited and worked in. Also she buys a house on Rockaway Beach that’s des ...more
I know we’re both a bit old for this, but I want Patti Smith to adopt me. If I ever meet her, I will just have to ask her if she’d be my grandma. They just don’t make them like her anymore…

Some people say “M Train” is a book about nothing, and that might not be inaccurate. It’s certainly not a story like “Just Kids” (, which was about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, nor a collection of poems tied together by a theme. It’s a collage/memoir of ca
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Writing this review is difficult because it's hard to explain in words the effect Patti Smith has on me. She is one of the few artists who never let me down. She has this incredible way of turning even the most unpoetic things in life into beautiful prose. In this book of shorts she shares with us memories from her travels, her family and what inspires her creativity.

Her stories and stunning prose would be enough to make this a fantastic read for me, but her words always go well beyond that. Eve
Slightly more than one year ago, the beginning of June, I read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and I fell in love with the writing, the story of her early years with Robert Mapplethorpe and then later on her music career, and her marriage to Fred “Sonic” Smith.

”It’s not so easy writing about nothing.
“That’s what a cowpoke was saying as I entered the frame of a dream. Vaguely handsome, intensely laconic, he was balancing on a folding chair, leaning backwards, his Stetson brushing the edge of the du
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
"Captivating . . . rich, varied. How to mourn for what’s lost without allowing loss to take over? While leaving space for what’s lost to return in an old or new form? These are the questions at the heart of M Train, [which] takes us on a journey through the 'stuff’ of Smith’s bookshelves and suitcases, as well as of her mind and memory . . . M Train embraces the fragment—moments of reverie [that] arise from the mundane. Integrated into the text are Polaroid photographs [that are] in productive t ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Not as good as Just Kids, but still enjoyable overall, though the essay quality is uneven. What works best is Smith's voice, which I made note of when reading the previous book. That and her unapologetic Romanticism. I like it! And I like it when she writes paragraphs like this:

"We want things we cannot have. We seek to reclaim a certain moment, sound, sensation. I want to hear my mother's voice. I want to see my children as children. Hands small, feet swift. Everything changes. Boy grown, fathe
Patti Smith wrote a book about nothing and I am less than enchanted.

I admit to knowing hardly anything about Patti Smith. She has always been a fascinating figure to me, so when I saw this audio book available at my local library, I put a hold on it, because I wanted to learn more about her and her life. Unfortunately, I didn't learn as much as I thought.

I discovered her love for her husband, Fred, and that she lost him while he was still relatively young. I learned that she has two children. I
Jolanta (knygupe)
Patti Smith wrote: “It’s not so easy writing about nothing” and I thought, ok, it’s going to be not easy to read about nothing … Her stories, however, not about nothing. As Patti Smith says, this book is ,,a roadmap to my life”. I'm truly enjoyed hers stories.
One more thing! I listened to this book and what a drug is her voice! Highly recommend an audio version!
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PATTI 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 Ga

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Punk rock legend, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, award-winning writer, photographer, activist, and all-around Renaissance woman Patti Smith is...
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“Nothing can be truly replicated. Not a love, not a jewel, not a single line.” 66 likes
“How is it that we never completely comprehend our love for someone until they’re gone?” 61 likes
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