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Patti Smith, Reader & Writer

It’s now a few days after the Sebald event at Snape Maltings and I’m not finding much coverage online.  The Guardian hyped the Patti Smith concert and the Grant Gee film for days but doesn’t seem to have reviewed either one yet.

In case anyone was wondering about the connection between Patti Smith and Sebald, apparently she gave out a list of her favorite books at the Melbourne International Arts Festival a few years ago. It’s an interesting blend of cult books (e.g. The Glass Bead Game), the expected Beat classics, Beat must-reads (Rimbaud, Blake, et al), more than a handful of genuinely great books, and two I’ve never heard of before. Several authors rate high enough that Smith recommends all their books, including Sebald.

“The Master & Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
“Journey To The East” by Hermann Hesse
“The Glass Bead Game” by Hermann Hesse
“Heart Of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville
“Billy Budd” by Herman Melville
“Songs Of Innocence” by William Blake
“The Wild Boys” by William Burroughs
“Howl” by Allen Ginsburg
“A Season In Hell” by Arthur Rimbaud
“Illuminations” by Arthur Rimbaud
“Wittgenstein’s Poker” by David Edmonds & John Eidinow
“Villette” by Charlotte Bronte
“The Process” by Brion Gysin
“Cain’s Book” by Alexander Trocchi
“Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare
“The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde
“The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles
“Against Interpretation” by Susan Sontag
“The Oblivian Seekers” by Isabelle Eberhardt
“Women Of Cairo” by Gerard de Nerval
“Under The Volcano” by Malcom Lowery
“Dead Souls” by Nikolai Gogol
“The Book Of Disquiet” by Fernando Pessoa
“Death Of Virgil” by Herman Broch
“Raise High The Roof Beams Carpenter/ Franny & Zooey” by J.D. Salinger
“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“A Night Of Serious Drinking” by Rene Daumal
“Swann In Love” by Marcel Proust
“A Happy Death” by Albert Camus
“The First Man” by Albert Camus
“The Waves” by Virginia Woolf
“Big Sur” by Jack Kerouac
anything by H.P. Lovecraft
anything by W.G. Sebald
“The Thief’s Journal” or anything by Jean Genet
“The Arcades Project” or anything by Walter Benjamin
“A Poet In New York” by Garcia Lorca
“The Lost Honor Of Katharina Blum” by Heinrich Boll
“The Palm Wine Drinkard” by Amos Tutuola
“Ice” by Anna Kavan (or anything by her)
“The Divine Proportion” by H.E. Huntley
“Nadja” by Andre Breton

What’s next for Patti Smith?  Apparently a detective novel.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thank You. It was me who wrote the article for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. More about Sebald I wrote on my site, including a large interview about the Rings of Saturn I had in Poring Land with Sebald, in december 1995, It was earlier published in NRC Handelsblad of januari 19th 1996. A larger article for a Duch magazin is under way…

    February 3, 2011
  2. During her gig Patti Smith informed us that it was due to Susan Sontag’s personal recommendation (they were good friends) that she got interested in Sebald. She found herself mesmerised by the photograph on the cover of Austerlitz but in the end seems to have been completely absorbed by After Nature. To my mind Patti Smith’s poem in homage to Sebald – with the recurring reference to ‘Max’ and a detective double figure – really got to the heart of Sebald’s writing in a directly emotive rather than objectively critical way. It was refreshing and powerful. I also enjoyed her readings from After Nature.

    She mentioned that on the following day she had plans to visit the church which is connected with her Norfolk ancestors.

    February 3, 2011
  3. Jonathan Derbyshire #

    My review of the weekend appears in the current issue of the New Statesman. It will migrate to the next week.

    February 4, 2011
  4. Sam #

    Piece in the FT this weekend, by Ariane Bankes:

    February 6, 2011
  5. marc #

    strage she did not include anything by Bolaño. I heard her in a “spoken word” concert in Gijon, Spain, where she read (interpreted) long passages of his work, e.g. “el ojo silva”. In other occassions she visited also Spain to read Lorca.

    February 24, 2011
  6. Will Smith #

    Patti Smith’s new book ‘M Train’ is a text-with-photos book that may well be of interest to you. Sebald comes up in conversation a couple of times in this discussion about the book recorded at New York Public Library:

    October 16, 2015
    • Will, thanks! This is on my list to order. – Terry

      October 16, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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