Year of the Monkey

Narrated by: Patti Smith
Length: 4 hrs and 31 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (247 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $14.00

Buy for $14.00

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Riveting, elegant, and humorous, New York Times best seller Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times. 

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 wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland, in which she debates intellectual grifters and spars with the likes of a postmodern Cheshire Cat. Then, in February 2016, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. For Smith - inveterately curious, always exploring, always writing - this becomes a year of reckoning with the changes in life’s gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America. 

Taking us from California to the Arizona desert, from a Kentucky farm to the hospital room of a valued mentor, Smith melds the Western landscape with her own dreamscape in a haunting, poetic blend of fact and fiction. As a stranger tells her, “Anything is possible. After all, it’s the Year of the Monkey.” But as Smith heads toward a new decade in her own life, she offers this balm to the listener: her wisdom, wit, gimlet eye, and above all, a rugged hope for a better world. 

Named one of NPR’s Best Books of the Year - now including a new chapter, "Epilogue of an Epilogue" - Year of the Monkey “reminds us that despair and possibility often spring from the same source” (Los Angeles Times). 

©2019 Patti Smith (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Her best days as a punk rock priestess may be behind her, but even at age 70, Patti Smith is still a working-class hero asking questions about life, love, and dreams.... She delivers wry observations of contemporary life, hers and the nation's. Her observations, imagery, and iconic non-rhyming poetry can best be appreciated when delivered by the artist herself. The memoir is a little bit of a lot of things, all tied up in a stream-of-consciousness trip across the country and across her own life as she enters her septuagenarian years." (AudioFile Magazine)

"Smith began writing Year of the Monkey on New Year’s Day 2016, a transformative year for the artist that brought aging, the loss of friends, and overall disillusionment. Juxtaposed with this personal narrative are Smith's descriptions of western landscapes she visited.... Fact and fiction increasingly blur, a combination made surreal by Smith's obsession with details that keep popping up in various locations.... A gripping tale of the search for meaning in times of turbulence - expressed with Smith’s signature poetic flair." (Christian Allaire, Vogue

"In this slim, hallucinatory volume, Smith roves the country in real time, visiting favorite haunts, hitching rides with strangers, contemplating the fuzzy border between waking and dreaming, and mourning the results of the 2016 presidential election. But just as a sense of gloom begins to settle, the sun peeks through the clouds. For while 'there is nothing in heaven like the suffering of real life...,' she writes, 'I still keep thinking something wonderful is about to happen.'" (The Oprah Magazine

"Smith’s grace and erudite philosophy is a welcome balm in these times.... Her latest memoir is an introspective look at her year of solo wandering - she documents that year’s massive political and social change her own lyrical way. The American canon is littered with 'road trip memoirs,' but if there’s a voice we’d want to add to that genre, it would be Smith." (Town & Country

Editor's Pick

A meditative sojourn with a great artist
"This intense, four-hour audio feels like accompanying your Artaud-quoting, Matrix-stanning favorite Aunt through a tough year…if your favorite Aunt is also the Godmother of Punk and a boardwalk shaman. Patti melts down and shapes each loss of lunar year 2016 (A bandmate. A collaborator. The inauguration.) into an exquisite glass bead, strung on the powerful wire of the unconscious. You don’t have to be a Patti Smith fan to love her performance, but it helps to be a dreamer."
Christina H., Audible Editor

What listeners say about Year of the Monkey

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    186
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    189
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    158
  • 4 Stars
    34
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

M Train Meets Naked Lunch

In yet another beautiful piece of writing, Patti Smith seamlessly interweaves everyday, ordinary moments with dream life so that we're often unsure whether a scene or conversation is occurring in real life, in her imagination, or in her dreams. If you liked M Train, you'll probably like this too, though M Train is far more focused on the quotidian--the minutiae of everyday routines and occurrences that come together to make up a life. This book reminded me a lot of the film David Cronenburg made of Burroughs's Naked Lunch: dreams and reality melting together, leaving us a bit off-kilter. In the end, it hardly matters what is real and what is dreamed, and it seems Smith wants the reader to not only know this is the case but to experience that bleed-through and uncertainty through her. Her prose mimics her content, mellifluously melting and flowing--though this appears to be her natural writing voice, as it is consistent throughout all of her books. This book is not for someone who is attached to plot or needs something to be accomplished, overcome or changed. If the only book of hers you've read is Just Kids, understand that Year of the Monkey--like M Train--is not so tied to story, nor as focused as Just Kids, but is more conceptual and presents itself as stream-of-consciousness; though, clearly, her intent in constructing it is deliberate. As she follows her mind's tangents along threads that deal with one's duty to others, mortality and the loss of treasured friends and family members, political upheaval and despair, and the beauty of simple moments captured by memory, she also traipses the geographic landscape from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, San Diego, LA, New York, Kentucky, and Virginia. I so loved her reading of the book that I now want to reread M Train, this time listening on Audible, so that I can hear her read it. I love how her deep voice, flat intonation and South Jersey/Philadelphia accent bring her prose to life.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

where reality, poetry,and dreams collide...amazing

I love listening to Patti. So raw, open, and honest. May we never repeat The year of the Monkey.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Poetry in story, story in poetry

In dreamlike prose, Patti Smith tells a story of loss and beauty, hope and anxiety, art and destruction. Her characters are drawn in broad brushstrokes that render their lives complex, contradictory, whole. This book is a dream bracketed by the quotidian world, the story of life bracketed by the boundaries of the body. It was not at all what I expected. I loved it. It certainly will now be everyone’s cup of tea. But honestly, I think it probably makes the world a more compassionate place by its mere existence.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

She Pulls Us Through The Mystery

I listened over and over. Her narrative gathers and speaks the deepest places of the soul. Her honesty so bare, with the last thought always of hope. The words are prayers.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Patti’s Voice

This book is a book of stories and poems. Good stories and poems land best in the oral tradition. Patti’s voice brings the poetry and stories together wonderfully. This is a book I preferred to listen to than to read.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Inimitable Writing from and Inimitable Voice

Really beautiful writing by Patti. Her voice and words draw you in to her mind and open a door into your own, the listener/reader. A good listen to help one reflect on one's own life and the meanings of our lives themselves.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

not as good as JUST KIDS but still good

JUST KIDS was about Maplethorpe and her relationship with him so he became another focal point. this book is really just about Patti and her view of almost everyone in her life...except Maplethorpe. so at times it seems like she is trying to show us how deep she is. But at heart she is a poet so the rythem of her words is hypnotic. I wanted to put this book down several times but I kept being drawn in by it's soothing tones and her cultural encounters. she is a totally unique and thoughtful woman. and, everyone would enjoy her insight.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent reading.

A powerful reading by author of her thoughtful and poignant book. It seems to be a stream of consciousness or a dream state retelling. Loved it!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Monkey poet

An intense and poetic autobiographical account of Patti Smith's process of moving through this exceptional life. The reader, or in my case listener, needs not be of a monkey mind.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Surreal

This is a beautiful surreal journey of life and death and dreams. It is good to know the characters because Smith doesn't go into detail about Shepherd or Pearlman beyond personal feelings, so keep Google close to annotate if you aren't familiar with either.

1 person found this helpful