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Devotion

(Why I Write)

by
3.84  ·  Rating details ·  7,191 ratings  ·  666 reviews
Devotion is short enough to devour at one enjoyable sitting and thought-provoking enough to deserve re-reading.”—Suzi Feay, Financial Times
 
Devotion shows rather than tells what it means to give a life to writing. ”—Katherine Cooper, Hyperallergic

A work of creative brilliance may seem like magic—its source a mystery, its impact unexpectedly stirring. How does an artist
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Paperback, 109 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Yale University Press (first published September 12th 2017)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,191 ratings  ·  666 reviews


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Maxwell
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unconventional but inspiring little book. It’s part memoir, part fiction, part travel writing. I just love Patti Smith’s writing.
Pedro
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it

A shot of inspiration.

•To relieve pain caused by bad books and inflammatory writing.

•Do not use if you are allergic to elegant prose.

•Apply as many times as necessary and consult your doctor if the symptoms persist for more than five seconds.

•Only take this medicine when you are seeking for an intimate and melancholic read.

•Keep it stored on a cool dry shelf.
David Schaafsma
Devotion by Patti Smith was the 2016 Windham-Campbell Lecture at Yale University. Smith, a singer, writer, and photographer, wrote M Train and Just Kids and several volumes of poetry. Her album Horses is widely viewed as one of the great rock albums of all time.

Where does her inspiration come from? Smith writes every day, usually in a café in Manhattan. She’s in her seventies now, having survived a husband and a long time partner, Robert Mapplethorpe, and is still writing and making music. New
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Julie Ehlers
As a reading experience this was unsatisfactory.

A brief book about writing and the writer's life, Devotion begins with a short section wherein Patti Smith travels to Paris to spend a week doing business with her French publisher. Her time there is fairly quiet, a lot of walks and relaxed meals in cafes. On a train trip she is suddenly inspired to write and feverishly turns out a short story in her notebook; she mentions that it contains several elements inspired by the preceding few days: a rou
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Janet
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A worthwhile addition to the Patti Smith library. "Devotion" beautifully describes Patti Smith's attitude toward the creative life, as anyone who has read M Train or Just Kids can attest.

This tiny volume is divided into three parts. The first, "How the Mind Works" is not analytical but illustrative. It starts, "Somehow, in search of something else, I stumbled upon..." A film about Estonians deported to Siberian collective farms in 1941. Images from the film. The difficulty of capturing images
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Cheri
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, 2020, kindle

Years ago I read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and fell in love with her writing, her story and her ability to weave the loves, sorrows and joys of her life together so effortlessly. I followed that up by reading M Train the year after, and the following year listened to the audible ofM Train and read Year of the Monkey. Last month I listened to her audible book Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane,which I loved, and today to her Devotion.

Devotion is very different from the others, part of the Why I Write
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Constance
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry-wisdom
Devotion is delivered to the reader in a bouquet of immortelle with a sword hidden in the middle.

I've said it before and will continue to reiterate, Ms Smith's books are to be read slowly, methodically or you will miss the magic.

I was ecstatic when Devotion finally arrived. I skipped through my home holding it dear to my heart.
Later I read a few pages, and slept with it beside me. The connection of her work is that potent; having the book close while you sleep is safety.

"Why do we write? Because
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Chris
While at the Harvard Book Store last week, I decided to console myself with the fact I couldn't make yet another trip in two weeks' time back to the city to see Patti Smith live, by purchasing her new book. I adore her, but in this case, I should have purchased a remainder hard cover copy of my beloved "M Train" instead of her newest. I was looking for this to be "M Train 2.0," but instead got an odd little 100-page book divided in three parts.

Part I is her recounting a trip to France; Part II
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Sophie
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why is one compelled to write? To set oneself apart, cocooned, rapt in solitude, despite the wants of others. Virginia Woolf had her room. Proust his shuttered windows. Marguerite Duras her muted house. Dylan Thomas his modest shed. All seeking an emptiness to imbue with words. The words that will penetrate virgin territory, crack unclaimed combinations, articulate the infinite. [...] There are stacks of notebooks that speak of years of aborted efforts, deflated euphoria, a relentless pacing
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Lee Foust
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable little book in its own way. It's a longish short story called "Devotion" bracketed by opening and closing sections discussing the story's genesis and then some reflections on the act of creative writing, in line with the book's genesis as part of the Why I Write-themed Windham-Campbell lectures at Yale.

It's the opening and closing sections that moved me the most, as a fellow writer and Patti Smith fan--I've even met her on a couple of occasions. The story was less dramatical
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Debashis
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting..beautiful..
Offbalance
While I often say that my love of Patti Smith's writing is massive and boundless, I may now have to qualify that to say that my love of Patti Smith's nonfiction is boundless. I could stand on street corners and harangue complete strangers into reading her absolutely perfect memoir Just Kids. It's a book so beautiful that it made me cry on the subway before 8am on a weekday. (Usually if I tear up under those circumstances, it has to do with a foul odor, or the knowledge that the week is far from ...more
Freesiab
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was so beautiful, delicate, passionate and lovely. It's more of a novella, so it's quite easy to finish in a day. Does she ever write a book that's not perfect? Maybe she'd adopt me?
Cheryl Kennedy
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
The word that comes to mind after closing this 100 page book is Praise. That's a lofty word that I've not pronounced on any other writing in many years, but this book merits it in my mind. Let me try to tell you why.

There are two streams of thought in the slim volume beginning with the foundation of a memoir. This is intimate for the reader to witness the author's preparation for trip to Paris and experience her deep knowledge of the city's gems. Her reading of French authors influences who she
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Sian Lile-Pastore
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It IS a bit slight... But still lovely. It's a three parter - starts non-fiction about travelling to France, which I really enjoyed, then there's a short story about an ice skater which was just ok for me, and then a short non-fiction piece at the end about going to Camus' house.

Some lovely parts in the non-fiction - coffee, books, bowls of berries etc etc and the short story wasn't awful by any means, but wasn't really expecting it.
Vanessa
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a lovely little book - part short story, part non-fiction/memoir. I've never read fictional prose from Smith before, but I quite enjoyed the story Devotion in this, even if it was quite strange. Her writing has a certain etherial quality that I can just get lost in. But my favourite part of this has to be her musings on writing and her own writing practice, in the cafes of Paris and New York City. The addition of her own personal photographs (including that of her notebook) really compl ...more
emma
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liked the autobiographical parts, absolutely loathed thr short story/novella in the middle. I never want to read a book about a "16-year old girl" having an affair with a "man in his late thirties". Just. NO.
Kathleen
"These streets are a poem waiting to be hatched—suddenly it’s Easter; eggs everywhere.”

Follow Patti Smith to the café, to Paris, on the train, into her dreams. You’ll emerge a different person: an artist, aware of detail, discriminating of style.

Since this is part of the “Why I Write Series,” I assumed she would tell us about why she writes. But, duh. No. She shows us. She takes us on a journey during which she conceives of a story, she gives us the story, and then reflects on the question. Thus
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Beth Bonini
“Most often the alchemy that produces a poem or a work of fiction is hidden within the work itself, if not embedded in the coiling ridges of the mind. But in this case I could track a plethora of enticements, a forest of firs, Simone Weil’s haircut, white bootlace, a pouch of screws, Camus’s existential gun.”

More often than not, I reread the beginning of a book as soon as I finish it. With this book, I felt that this order of reading, or rather re-reading, was essential. I would recommend it to
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Sarah Koppelkam
I love you Patti.

As always, Patti's voice is unmistakable. Her love for black coffee, for visiting the graves of her muses, for simplicity and for obsession (devotion?): it's all here. As Smith says herself in the third section of this slim text ("A Dream is Not a Dream") it is a rare thing to be able to track all of the influences, images, and fascinations that make up a piece of art. But Smith does it here. In the first section, "How the Mind Works", we see the pieces coming together, and the
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Zizeloni
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has three parts. It starts with another episode of "catching up with Patti": she is in Paris, reading, remembering, getting inspiration. I loved M train, but I have to admit that starting this book I wondered "is what I am doing now the same as watching a literature reality show?"
However the second part of the book was fiction: a story about a young ice skater and a man watching her. Although it started with many descriptions, I ended up loving this story and imagining a movie version
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Carina
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
I loved how this book not only gave me a piece of fiction, but also the story behind it. Patti Smith talking about how she got inspired for the characters as she walked the streets of Paris and travelled through England was beautiful. I quess "Just Kids" cannot be ignored this year...
Robin
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patti Smith is a gift.
Sarah
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A 95 page reminder that Patti Smith is an amazing artist and down right cool person.
Michael
Smith's opening essay gives a snapshot of the weeks in her life leading up to the composition of the title story. I found the essay fascinating; beautifully written and transporting. She allowed me to feel like I was her journey's companion, sharing her coffee, experiencing the sights, sounds and feel of the places through which she was travelling (even when she was staying somewhere, absorbing its atmosphere, it felt like Patti was looking to the next place, and these memories and sensations we ...more
Kathryn
Dec 20, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If only all of her musings and introspection on the mystical processes of birthing a piece of writing could have produced something worth reading. The story "Devotion" encapsulated within the book of the same title, does nothing to elucidate the richness or complexity of human experience, and lays characters flat, who are nihilistic at best. I could feel nothing for them because they could only produce a shallow and passive expression of human feeling. The pieces of the book hang loosely related ...more
Asbah
May 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quickreads
"That night I dreamt I knew how to swim. The sea was cold, but I had a coat on."

Maria
Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am ambivalent about how much I like this. It does take itself awfully seriously. But then I do find that is a sensible thing to do. But I guess it’s just not entirely to my taste.
βαβυλών
i don't quite want to use the word pretentious, because she seems so earnest. but.
M. Sarki
https://rogueliterarysociety.com/f/de...

...Alain glances from his book and looks out the window. Time contracts. We are suddenly approaching Paris. Aurélien is sleeping. It occurs to me that the young look beautiful as they sleep and the old, such as myself, look dead…

Patti Smith is always brutally honest when she needs to be. I respect her and admire her very much. Do I think she is a great writer? No, I do not. But she is a great artist given her entire body of work in music, poetry, collage,
...more
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7,228 followers
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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Because we cannot simply live.”
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“Why is one compelled to write? To set oneself apart, cocooned, rapt in solitude, despite the wants of others. Virginia Woolf had her room. Proust his shuttered windows. Marguerite Duras her muted house. Dylan Thomas his modest shed. All seeking an emptiness to imbue with words. The words that will penetrate virgin territory, crack unclaimed combinations, articulate the infinite. The words that formed Lolita, The Lover, Our Lady of the Flowers.” 8 likes
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