This is a short memoir or more so collection of memoir essays by Patti Smith that trace the last few years. They seem to deal primarily with aging, reading, artists, work, working, and the deaths or dying of several of her friends and colleagues.
There’s a running thread through this book about performance and creation — not so much the creative process — but the actual process of creation. There’s an early reference to Antonin Artaud, and it occurred to me while reading this, that mostly what we’re seeing is this process of creation in action. Or rather, we are seeing the end results of the process of creation in action. This is book where the emphasis is not on the memoir that we’re reading but on the writing of the memoir that we happen to be reading. I will be really direct here: I generally don’t care about things like performance and the process of writers. I am not a writer, and while I like the products of writing, writing, I don’t care much about the process of writing, except in the ways it leads to writing. And so there’s a whole thread in this book about artists creating, and that process’s importance to writers. So I am reminded of the experience of reading Sam Shepard’s final novel, which was likely an important creative force in his life, but not a book I thought was very good.
And the same happens here as well. We have a book that feels very important to the writer, but not one that seems all that important to the reader.