Book Club: M Train by Patti Smith, Stations 6, 7 & 8 Discussion

Join in on this week’s book club discussion…

Do you remember your dreams? I don’t, save for a small roster of recurring oddities. Places from my past revisited again and again, a sporadic loop, recalled only in sputters and spurts long after their curtain closes. Mostly, I wake with a mood hanging over me — melancholy, a wisp of laughter, sadness…the last vestiges of what went on throughout the night in my head. I’ve often wondered what makes one person so susceptible to vivid dreams over another. I wake with a blank slate while M Train‘s author, Patti Smith, meets recurring characters. Her cicerone, the cowboy (who I can’t help but picture as Sam Elliot playing The Stranger in The Big Lebowski), guides her through her nightly alternate realities, offering words of mystic wisdom along the way.

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Smith’s world, or at least the way she tells of it, oscillating between cafes and cowboy dreams and far-off destinations, seems comfortable. As I read through these Stations I found myself wondering if this is the sort of comfort that comes with age, with living out the exciting days of youth, eventually settling into the routine of someone who’s seen much of the world. Someone who is content to leave some of those dreams behind, to let dreams be dreams. The way Smith writes of her life, there’s no razor’s edge of nostalgia, she appears to recall memories and events fondly without waxing overly poetic in a way you might expect from a writer looking back lovingly on their life. Her writing is even-keeled, even when speaking to the experience of finally being able to step through the gates of Casa Azul.

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Stations 6, 7, & 8 discussion questions:

– Do you believe it’s possible to live without time, the way the author and her husband did?

– Have you ever become obsessed with a fictional place or thing, the way the author did in Station 7? What was it? Why was it intriguing?

– Do you remember your dreams? Do you have a tool for remembering them, similar to the way Smith uses the alphabet in Station 8?

– Is there a landmark, like Casa Azul, you dream of one day visiting?

– Do your dreams have repeat characters? What do you think they represent?

What do you think The Cowboy represents?

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– Do you believe it’s possible to live without time, the way the author and her husband did? I think there’s something fantastical in nature about the idea of living without time. I’m currently in my last semester of college. My days are still ruled by a clock that pushes me from point A to point B from the time I roll out of bed in the morning until I go to sleep at night. I do, however, remember my summers spent in grade school not being sure (and not caring) what day of the week it was. In childhood… Read more »