Year of the Monkey is the third volume in Patti Smith’s loosely joined memoirs, which began with Just Kids, and continued with M Train.
I very much enjoy Smith’s quirky, often humorous, writing, and this latest volume continues in a familiar vein. There are moving sections concerning the loss of friends, and impromptu musings and excursions, but Year of the Monkey falls short of its two predecessors.
A big problem for me were the dream sequences. Although similar sequences occur in M Train, they are far more intrusive in Year of the Monkey. So intrusive, in fact, that it often becomes confusing about which events are part of a dream-sequence, and which are real. I’m sure this is entirely deliberate, and the segues from dream-sequence to reality (and back again) are cleverly handled. But it felt over-confusing and unnecessary to this reader.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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