Devotion - Patti Smith

Staff Pick

Patti Smith is a collector of dreams and dream-like moments. Her Paris is “grainy bits of film swirl” spliced with her memories of earlier visits. Smith turns these images into guiding spirits and follows where they lead, making art—writing and photographs—along the way. Devotion (Yale, $18) is both a map and an artifact of this creative journey. It opens with a pilgrimage to Camus’s house, Simone Weil’s grave, and Modiano’s Paris streets that could be one more stop on the M Train. But rather than an end in itself, this essay is a staging ground for the “alchemy” that transforms random details of daily life—the color of the sky, the program on TV—into a work of fiction. “Devotion,” the book’s centerpiece, is a modern fairy tale about art and identity, love and autonomy. Both hauntingly lovely and slightly disturbing, as fairy tales are, it follows sixteen-year-old Eugenia as she pursues her passion for figure skating. This is an art whose very means are ephemeral, yet for Eugenia, who has lost her parents, her aunt, and her lover, it’s a reliable solace and a lasting inspiration, just as, for Smith, “the decisive power of a singular work” is always an irresistible “call to action” to make something herself.

Devotion (Why I Write) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300218626
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yale University Press - September 12th, 2017

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