Patti Smith’s “Devotion” is a slim meditation on the essential mystery of the creative act that is equal parts exasperating and inspiring . Whatever its merits, its safe to say that her admires – that would be me – who are legion – will receive it worshipfully, while her skeptics if there even is such a thing – will find it slight, precious and unconvincing.
The opening sequence describes what we are meant to assume is a typical week or so in the life of Patti Smith.
You might remember I spent hours waiting to worship at the feet of Patti Smith at this years Bluesfest. What I loved about this little book – like the obsessed fan that I am – are the small details she releases about her life…..
This from the Financial Times….. The story, “Devotion”, concerns a young girl who finds intense fulfilment in ice-skating on a frozen pond, hidden from prying eyes. But how valid is an art form without an audience? An older man, drawn by her unconventional looks, soon discovers her secret, and his generosity promises to elevate her art while simultaneously constraining her being — for of course the sponsorship comes at a price. The usual price, you might say. The framing essays reveal how the story came to be written — “feverishly”, on a train from Paris to the south of France, and back again.
Smith travels light; there’s a delicious glimpse of the contents of her bag: “Notebook, [monograph on] Simone [Weil], underwear, socks, toothbrush, a folded shirt, camera, my pen and dark glasses. Everything I need.” As M Train also made clear, she’s a devoted visitor to writers’ graves, turning up in Ashford, Kent, Weil’s unexpected final resting place. Seeking Paul Valéry’s grave in Sète, she finds the title of her short story in the word “DEVOUEMENT” she spies on a nearby headstone.
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