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Year of the Monkey

Narrated by: Patti Smith
Length: 3 hrs and 49 mins
5 out of 5 stars (54 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 wandering. Unfettered by logic or time, she draws us into her private wonderland with no design, yet heeding signs - including a talking sign that looms above her, prodding and sparring like the Cheshire Cat. In February, a surreal lunar year begins, bringing with it unexpected turns, heightened mischief, and inescapable sorrow. In a stranger's words, "Anything is possible: after all, it's the Year of the Monkey." For Smith - inveterately curious, always exploring, tracking thoughts, writing - the year evolves as one of reckoning with the changes in life's gyre: with loss, aging, and a dramatic shift in the political landscape of America.

Smith melds the western landscape with her own dreamscape. Taking us from California to the Arizona desert; to a Kentucky farm as the amanuensis of a friend in crisis; to the hospital room of a valued mentor; and by turns to remembered and imagined places, this haunting memoir blends fact and fiction with poetic mastery. The unexpected happens; grief and disillusionment set in. 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.

Riveting, elegant, often humorous, Year of the Monkey is a moving and original work, a touchstone for our turbulent times.

©2019 Patti Smith (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"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

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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful