01 May 2016

"The Many Portals of The World"

Dear Patti,

On a whim, I picked up your book M Train at the library last week. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite a whim, because the book was on my Wunderlist of non-fiction books to read, but I hadn’t gone looking for it - it was out on one of the “Rapid Read” shelves up front and it just leapt into my arms. And it blew me away.

Somehow, I had no idea that you were such a gifted writer. Songwriter? Sure. Singer. Yes? But writer of books writer? This is something I didn’t know.

I’m hard pressed to pigeonhole the book. It isn’t really a memoir, it’s too non-linear for that. It might best be described by a line towards the very end: “An aria for a coat, a requiem for a café.” It meanders all over the place, back and forth in time. So many books! So many cups of coffee! Objects galore, intriguing articles of clothing in spades. How did you come to own a pair of Margot Fonteyn’s ballet slippers? [When I was a kid, my mother and I saw her in the audience of a ballet performance, and she refused to give me her autograph. If she were still alive, would she refuse a selfie with a pre-teen fan?]

A few pages before that phrase about the coat and the café, there's a paragraph about lost possessions. Are they still with us?

My house is full of objects, clothes, furniture that mean something to me - but perhaps not to anyone else. Sometimes I want to catalog them, but who has time for that!

Your simple domesticity slayed me – Patti Smith sews curtains, Patti Smith makes packing lists, Patti Smith cleans up her room. I feel stalkerish in that I jotted down books to read (Frankenstein, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) and a toothpaste to hunt down (Weleda salt). I’m thrilled to know that you have cats: one of mine is currently chasing a housefly all around my living room and I think she wishes she had wings. You like Luther, and your favorite Doctor is Tennant – could we hang out and watch Broadchurch one day?

I took the book out of the library, and it slipped into being overdue – I never do that! I’m itchy fingers away from buying my own copy, so that I can re-read it and dog-ear some pages and scribble in the margins.

Hey, thanks. I'm grateful to have been given a portal into your world.


A New Fan


Claudia said...

I am still undecided about this book. Mainly because I don't think I'd like her in real life and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't like me even though we like a lot of the same things. I'm not sure what it is, exactly. I love this book but I also don't. For the same "I don't know why" reasons. Maybe I'll figure it out one day.

Janet said...

Did you read her book Just Kids? I was reading it while camping with Dave back in the beginning of our relationship, and I could hardly stop reading to make conversation with him :-)

I also loved The Wind-Up Chronicle, and many other of Murakami's books. Enjoy!