Book Club: M Train by Patti Smith, Stations 3, 4, & 5 Discussion

A web of dreams and realities, today we’re discussing Stations 3, 4, & 5 of M Train by Patti Smith.

Patti Smith likes The Killing. I like The Killing. There’s something very humanizing in knowing your punk idols enjoy cop dramas. In Station 3 of M Train we find Smith waxing poetic on the eventual end of the show while she flies to Germany to speak at a conference dedicated to Alfred Wegener. She’s the creative visionary plunked down amid a sea of linear thinkers. An image put into relief when she dares take creative license with Wegener’s demise, her conjecture throwing the room into a tailspin. If there’s one thing M Train makes clear — if it’s not already — it’s that creativity is faceted. It comes from all directions making up the vast expanse of who we are as “creatives”: the musical icon can enjoy a detective show on a plane and speak to a room full of scientists the following day; the casualness and unselfconscious ease with which Smith speaks to her passions, hobbies and habits throughout the pages of M Train make her even more likable and, more importantly, I’ve noticed my own creative spark reignite while reading about her web of dreams and realities.

The act of travel, the return from travel, deposited back to your everyday life like nothing happened. The cafes and landmarks across the globe that make an impression, that become “your spot.” A spot that may never be returned to again. The locations we find ourselves in, both mundane and exciting, Smith finds both sides worth memorializing. The desolate wall of a Michigan convenience store can be just as enchanting at the bustling streets of New York or Morocco, held with as much reverence as the far off locales we dream of eventually seeing. In a modern culture where the grass can often seem greener, when “wanderlust” is the overarching theme, it’s heartening to hear Smith, someone who has indeed seen and experienced much of the world, speak about life in the Midwest with as much appreciation — and possibly more — as the places she’s explored globally. We should all be so lucky to appreciate the places we’re in right now. Smith’s words are a reminder to not always be looking forward, to be anticipating, but to stop and look around. To savor the cup of black coffee sipped on your front step, a park bench, or from a corner cafe with a view of the Seine.

Stations 3, 4, &  5 discussion questions:

– Do you have your own version of Smith’s Michigan Tangier? Where is it? What makes it sacred?

– Where have you traveled that you hope to one day return to? What made you connect to that particular place?

– Do you remember your dreams? Do you record them? Has a dream ever influenced your creative work?

+ Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Yes I usually remember my dreams each morning. I’m completely fascinated with Lucid Dreaming (being aware that you are in a dream when you are dreaming) and once wrote a spec screenplay entitled “Shattered Dreams” about lucid dreaming.

    The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

  2. Went to see Patti Smith a few weeks ago in Boston when she was signing her book and giving an hour talk! What an interesting woman! Haven’t finished reading the book yet, in the middle of my reading. Beautiful narrative!

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