Patti Smiths book M Train captures a series of bad events that she experienced through her journey of life. She lost her husband Fred, guitarist in 1994 at the age of 45, death caused by ha heart failure. Then shortly after she lost her brother to stroke barely a month after the death of her husband. As if a bad streak of events had vengeance on her, she lost her early New York friend to AIDS in the year 1989. Pattis M Train is a transition from a time when her children were growing up and things she touched were living to a period where memories and experiences were captured in photos and words- she began creating her own souvenirs of her past (Iandoli).
One such visit was to the Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, a place that held sentimental value to her. Several months before their first anniversary, her husband Fred had told her that if you promise to give me a child then he would take her to any place in the world, wherever she wished. Her choice of this place was motivated by her long-held desire to explore the French penal colony where the most notorious of criminals would be shipped before they would later be transferred to the Devils Island. She had longed to visit the site because Jean Genet had reverently wrote about it and she wanted to pick some stones from the site and have them delivered to him as a souvenir. She was not able to meet Genet, but in one of her visits to Morocco, she managed to lay the three stones she had picked on his grave in Larache. Even as she places these stones on genets graveyard, all she could see were vivid pictures and memories of his husband Fred; I saw his wedding ring and his brown leather shoes, recalls Patti.
Patti Smith would soon visit Casa Azul, a place that used to be the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, now turned a museum in Mexico. Frida and Patti had much in common, both having been fell by a series of misfortunes through the loss of their loved ones but they still soldiered on strong. When she first made her first visit to the place, she found that it was closed for renovation. She stood numbly before the great blue walls as there was nothing she could do. She would, however, visit the place later, motivated by the memories about Frida brought about by a book her mother had given her on her 16th birthday. On her second visit, Smith would take a couple of photographs of some of Fridas possessions; her crutches, her bed, and the ghost of a stairwell, all of which were tainted with the atmosphere of sickness, perhaps in reference to Fridas struggle with sickness (Kakutani).
Her drive to visit Casa Azul was to honor an invitation to deliver her speech in honor of Frida Kahlo and her husband, Rivera. She had learned about the artist through a book her mother had given her on her sixteenth birthday, The Wonderful Life of Diego Rivera and was fascinated to learn more about the artist. She was also a huge coffee fan and had been informed that the best coffee in the world was grown on the mountains surrounding Veracruz. Her tastes for coffee might have had a hand in her visit to Casa Azul (Iandoli).
Being a member of the Continental Drift Club, an association formed to honor Alfred Wegener, the brains behind the continental drift theory; Patti had the privilege of visiting Reykjavik, Iceland and took some few photographs of the table used for the legendary chess match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. She would later be invited by Fischers bodyguard for a meeting with the chess legend in the hotel dining room. Their first meeting was not all that cordial and friendly as Fischer began on a string of obscene and racially repellent references. With her diplomacy, she was able to deflate the bad taste of their first encounter by telling him that she could be just as repellent as him but on different subjects (Doreian). They would later turn out to be good company, even singing along to some Buddy Holly songs together.
Patti Smiths M Train is a collection of a series of nostalgic memories she has had on her life journey, memories of the people that had the most impact on her, of her greatest writers and artists, her friends and her family. Wherever she goes, she keeps these memories alive by either taking a souvenir of something that her hero liked the most or just taking a photograph or coining the moment with witty words. She travels all over the world visiting these iconic artists that influenced much of her life and the memories she had with her late husband Fred would pop up whenever she would reminisce of her heroes. M Train is an epic collection of the artists sad encounters in this unpredictable journey called life.
Doreian, Robyn. "Patti Smith's Memoir M Train Reveals A Life In Pictures". The Sydney Morning Herald. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.
Iandoli, Kathy. "Patti SmithaS M Train Is The Happiest Depiction Of Melancholia | Pitchfork". Pitchfork.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.
Kakutani, Michiko. "Review: aM Train,a Patti Smith On All The Roads She Has Taken". Nytimes.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2016.
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