I am drawn to stories about grief. As the years go by and I learn to live with mine, I find it comforting to wrap myself in the grief of others, fictional or otherwise. It’s a way to lessen the isolation that grief strands us in.
How is it that we never completely comprehend our love for someone until they’re gone?
With M Train, Patti Smith explores the themes of love, loss and grief in her life. Mainly the loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith at the age of 45. It’s a book presented as a series of dreams, memories, travels and the hazy area in between them all. Smith is a consummate poet and her memoirs always read as an extension of that, ephemeral and enigmatic.
It’s not so easy writing about nothing.
Like Just Kids before it, M Train’s text is juxtaposed with personal photographs of Smith’s. These are more powerful for the fact they are frequently not of people, but of inanimate objects that belong to artists and writers that inspire her. They create a subtle set dressing that tells us more about Smith than her words alone could.
Nothing can be truly replicated. Not a love, not a jewel, not a single line.
This is one of those books that should not be talked about too much in hard and concrete terms. It strips it of some of it’s magic. It’s often heart wrenching, but more often hopeful. I’m sure I will wrap myself in it’s words more than once. Perhaps it will not be all at once. Perhaps I will choose a chapter here and passage there, but there is too much beauty here to not be revisited.