Fans will undoubtedly find her memoir as enthralling as her celebrated career.
The last year of the Monkey was 2016, predicted to be a hard year for people born under that Chinese zodiac animal, with both their body and emotional condition facing some difficult times.
While American “punk poet laureate” Patti Smith was born under the Year of the Dog, her autobiography recounts her life leading into and during that single year: the Year of the Monkey; the year she turned 70.
Smith is a poet, musician, singer, songwriter, and author of numerous books. She rose to fame in 1975 with her debut album and is known for mashing poetry with rock music. Earlier this century she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, named Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters by the France’s Ministry of Culture, and was awarded the Polar Music Prize by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2011.
Her memoir is a reflective piece that blends real life with heightened memory and feelings of a time when old friends were dying, America was leading up to the Trump election, and Smith herself was on a soul searching journey that would take her as far away as Uluru in the Australian outback.
Smith has a way with words, providing descriptive prose that conjures clear, if not fantastical images at times, of the people and places, but as a storyteller, Year of the Monkey tends to be rather flat. There’s no great highs or lows in the narrative and her tale is relatively straight forward, limited by the short timeframe over which it’s told. Year of the Monkey is engaging but, without a fluctuating rhythm, it has the potential to become monotonous for those who aren’t already a fan of the artist. Those who are however, will undoubtedly find her memoir as enthralling as her celebrated career.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Book Distributed by: Bloomsbury Australia
Released: September 2019
RRP: $29.99 hardback