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Year of the Monkey

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  10,012 ratings  ·  1,141 reviews
From the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year.

Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti Smith finds herself tramping the coast of Santa Cruz, about to embark on a year of solitary
Hardcover, 171 pages
Published September 24th 2019 by Knopf
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  10,012 ratings  ·  1,141 reviews

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Chris Molnar
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Just Kids is a romantic, bohemian coming of age memoir par excellence; I'm only slightly ashamed to say I moved to New York because of it. The follow-up M Train is not inspiring in the same way but still an interesting reflection of her peripatetic life as a respected middle aged artist exploring different mediums and interests.

Year of the Monkey, on the other hand, is something much darker, and unintentionally so - a deep dive into the mindset of a rich, famous artist as they ward off the outsi
Diane S ☔
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
Surrealism in words. Free flowing thoughts, a fever dream, all can be used when experiencing this latest voyage through Smith's thoughts. An experience it is, interpretations, sometimes in dreams, sometimes in reality, non linear, but her words, descriptions are poetic. Starting with an old friend who is in the hospital dying, what he meant to her, taking her back to the past, comparisons with all she sees. Her last year before turning seventy in the year of the monkey. Her husband gone twenty y ...more
”Marcus Aurelius asks us to note the passing of time with open eyes. Ten thousand years or ten thousand days, nothing can stop time, or change the fact that I would be turning seventy in the Year of the Monkey. Seventy. Merely a number but one indicating the passing of a significant percentage of the allotted sand in an egg timer, with oneself the darn egg. The grains pour and I find myself missing the dead more than usual. I notice that I cry more when watching television, triggered by roman ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Patti Smith. I got to see her talk on a book tour of her last book M Train. It was great, part lecture, part reading, and part concert of her singing some great music. Ha, that's lots of parts. She is a must read for me without even reading the book description. So naturally, I bugged my library for the audio version. If you are going to immerse yourself in a Patti Smith book, the only way to do it is via the audio. I do think she is one of the better narrators out there.

Year of the Monke
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
I must begin, and probably just end it, and say that I have a weakness for all things Patti Smith. This book is a logical process in the memoirs she has written before, it's still her, with all her friends, present and not, (mostly men, I couldn't help noticing) and some dreams, or hallucinations. Also her always enlightening and beautiful comments on literature, art and music.But through it all her voice is strong and clear, just as you can imagine her always. Maybe the second added epilogue wa ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bio-memoir
“A mortal folly comes over the world”—Antonin Artaud

“Anything is possible, he said. After all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.”

Year of the Monkey is the third memoir from punk rocker and National Book Award winner (Just Kids) Patti Smith, and it is making a lot of best-of-the-year lists. It’s short, a smallish book, filled with Smith’s signature Polaroids as she documents a year when she turned seventy, 2016, the Year of the Monkey, which is as you may recall is the same year Trump was elected.

This is a year in the life of Patti Smith and it’s wrapped up like a dream. We start out and she is on the California coast at the Dream Inn. Her life friend Sam, I'm not sure if they’re married or not, is dying. She wraps her life up with this ‘life is but a dream’ imagery. I love her prose and how she entangles all these events together. She is moving about the country. She goes to San Francisco and Kentucky and New York and ends up in Virginia Beach. She is a rambler.

This is 2016, the year of
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are books I love not just for what they are in themselves, but for the quality of the ideas they stimulate within me, their lingering effect. The Year of the Monkey is such a book. In a year ruled by a trickster, in a year of monkey wrenches and monkey-shines, political dire straits (2016 is the Year of the Monkey)--all a woman can do is respond to what the universe kicks up, open to the implications of the random, following where they lead.

Smith is 69, going to be seventy, when she takes
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Patti Smith is nothing if not a wordsmith. I would love to spend a day in her head, because her brain is a fascinating one. Year of the Monkey is kind of a memoir of Patti living a kind of vagabond existence for one year of her life (2016 I believe), but it also veers into an area where reality and fiction are blurred. It becomes quite odd at times, and I can't say I loved all of it. But for the most part I was in such a quiet little zone reading this, I felt really detached from reality like I ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned

As with most Patti Smith books, I think I'll enjoy this one the more time I ponder it and when I inevitably read it again. It's very dreamy and wandering, about a year in her life where she was a sort of vagabond. So the prose meanders as well and it's hard to find your footing. Nevertheless, as I always say, I love Smith's writing style and will read whatever she puts out. And I'll be sure to revisit this one again in the future.
Leslie Ray
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading this was like being apart someone's dream with insight into their reflections and thoughts while with the feeling of suspension in time that dreams often evoke. Patti Smith writes about the year 2016, which is the Chinese Year of the Monkey. She spends time hitchhiking and relating her free spirited journey to various places in America while subsequently reminiscing on life, loss, aging, and politics. The dreamlike quality lasts throughout, and it is hard to know what is real and what is ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Nothing is ever solved. Solving is an illusion. There are moments of spontaneous brightness, when the mind appears emancipated, but that is mere epiphany."

Since I've loved Patti Smith for as long as I can remember, it was clear that I would pick this new memoir up on release day, even though her other recent one, M Train , was a bitter disappointment—I liked this better than that last attempt, but only marginally so, not enough to warrant a full additional star.

Everything that worked in
Richard Z.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Patti Smith is a poet warrior who's maybe reaching her peak as the country reaches a low point. This book is hypnotic and , as the title warns you, dream like. Long sections are hallucinatory, inspired, and it's impossible to tell what's real and what's not real but still truthful. This is a book about loss--Sam Shepherd to ALS, Sandy Pearlman to a cerebral hemorrhage, America to its President. Smith lives in a dreamy world of poetry and opera. Spending a few hours dreaming with her is a privile ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Patti Smith's latest memoir recounts the happenings of her life in 2016, which, somewhat unsurprisingly, was the year of the monkey (猴年) in the Chinese zodiac. The reader follows Smith as she hitchhikes around the U.S. while grappling with the death and illness of two close friends.

I loved the first half of this - it felt reminiscent of some of Joan Didion's writing at times, dreamy passages about California and life in "the in-between". It lost steam a little for me in the second half, but stil
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Dreamlike and hallucinogenic, full of memory and imagination, meditative and calming. I marveled at how present Patti is in the observations she relates.
Harry McDonald
“It’s the dried-up-poet syndrome, necessitating plucking inspiration from the erratic air,”

Patti Smith might be the great articulator of loss. So much of her work draws explicitly on it, all the way back to Horses. Her most famous book, Just Kids, was written out of a deathbed promise she made.

Year of the Monkey, her account of 2016, is a lyrical tale that starts Smith tramping the west coast of America, a long way from the New York she’s spent so much of her prose describing. “Anything can happ
Jules Kelly
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's Patti Smith's world, and we're just lucky to be living in it.

—Have actually you've seen it? I asked.
—You don't see things like that. You feel them, as in all important things; they arrive, they come into your dreams.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love Patti Smith, which is perhaps why I thoroughly enjoyed the dreamlike journey she creates in this book. Whereas her previous biographies have taken us back into time, they were much more factual that this book, here, I felt like a voyeur mesmerized by the inner workings of the author's mind. While there is a part of me that knows that everyone has the opportunity to do the same, it felt like a privilege. It felt like an honor.

My review is a bit late because I waited until it was published
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“One cannot approximate truth, add or take away, for there is no one on earth like the true shepherd and there is nothing in heaven like the suffering of real life.”

Another beautiful memoir. While this narrative was sometimes less linear than others, for me it was well met in time. She briefly touches on the shift of mood in the country after the election, as well as other events coinciding after the Year Of The Monkey. Her observations about the world, large and small, are always well written.
Tyler Goodson
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
Alternating between lucid memoir and mystical, dreamlike sketches of the world around her, Patti Smith spends The Year of the Monkey dreading and mourning the loss of her friends and America as it once was. It's strange, beautiful, troubling, comforting. ...more
Karen deVries
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seems like people either love this one or are bitterly disappointed. Count me among those who love it. For a few of my grad school years, I lived within a mile of Santa Cruz’s Dream Inn, which is where the story begins. Loved the way its sign signified so much throughout, especially the thin line between dreaming and reality.

Smith’s writing here, particularly the magical realist moments, is stunningly beautiful and powerful. I’ve always loved the way she weaves threads of her knowledge of Bibli
...the fog of cinematic war- an Edward Hopper-like silence- a small gesture identical to some other that I seemed destined to repeat- it's a cult thing- the bonfires at twilight and the enveloping sense of a strange chemical calm- it was so warm they came out of hibernation, totally confused- a sense of everyone gone, a J.G. Ballard kind of gone- the unprecedented heat and the dying reef and the arctic shelf breaking apart- in the time of the great whaling ships- she's had that darn cough for fo
Özlem Güzelharcan
The year of monkey. The death of the last white rhinoceros.

Yet another Patti Smith book in which I'm dazzled by the bravado of her language; a distinctive narrative mix of poetry and surrealism, my kind of thinking, to sum up. This book, I find, is a little more dreamlike than others (M Train and Just Kids, to say, of which I adore). Smith talks about her vagabond year with a lot of on-point observations and descriptions where the background story keeps reminding us that she has a dying close fr
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This reads more like one of Patti's poems. Unlike a lot of poetry, I actually understand most of the oblique references (at least to pop culture). I realize however, that she lives in a further outback than I ever thought. It seems like she exists in this really highbrow world where she only reads things like Marcus Aurelius....not that there's anything wrong with that, but really?

2016 was a bit of a bummer for more than just the obvious reasons. Having lost two good friends (bandmate Sandy Perl
Kivrin Engle
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Smith melds the western landscape with her own dreamscape in a haunting, poetic blend of fact and fiction." (From the book jacket)

How could I not fall in love with Patti’s storyscape which begins on New Year’s Day, in Santa Cruz, at our one beachfront hotel, Dream Inn? When I walk past the Dream Inn’s sign now, I will half-expect it to converse with me as it did with Patti. Or was she merely dreamin’?

I remember this New Year’s Day. I was out walking, wandering through the stillness of a quiet
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
I feel like I read this book in a dream, which is fitting.
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Always love an ethereal Patti Smith read.
Joe Kraus
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A little more than three years ago, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. That seemed like a kind of dream, a fulfillment of something my family – in particular my father – had imagined since (in his case) the early 1930s.

Three days later, my beloved cat – Tobi – was killed in an accident with the garage door.

Two days after that, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. And nothing since then has felt quite the same.

It’s hard to think of that strange succession of events as havi
Sian Lile-Pastore
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely, slow, slightly melancholy book about loss, aging and reading. I really loved the tender way she writes about Sam Shepard.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Actual rating 3,5
You know what I don't like in books? Dreams.
So me giving this such a high-ish rating despite it being insanely dream filled and meta at nearly all times is a testament to Patti Smith and her way with words, her whimsical writing, yet so grounded and real.
I love when she describes what she's having for breakfast and all her coffee mentions.
I love when she sits and writes in her notebooks.
She's such a poetic soul and I want to read all of her books, even when they verge on allllll
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Play Book Tag: Year of the Monkey- Patti Smith 5 stars 1 23 Oct 15, 2019 08:13AM  

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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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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
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“The trouble with dreaming is that we eventually wake up.” 18 likes
“This is what I know - Sam is dead. My brother is dead. My mother is dead. My father is dead. My husband is dead. My cat is dead. My dog, who was dead in 1957, is still dead. Yet still I keep thinking that something wonderful is about to happen. Maybe tomorrow.” 10 likes
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