This week, Patti Smith releases M Train, her follow-up to the life-affirming, flawlessly composed 2010 memoir Just Kids. Unlike Just Kids, which Smith says she wrote with “an agenda” and a “responsibility” to her late friend Robert Mapplethorpe, M Train is a more free-flowing work of non fiction, where dreams sit comfortably alongside quiet, unassuming moments from her day-to-day life.
Smith visited Hearst Tower on Monday (Oct. 6) to discuss M Train, chatting for an hour with Esquire editor-in-chief David Granger, Hearst employees and a few members of the media about her new book.
Aside from the intrinsic humor in Patti Smith speaking at Hearst 41 years after singing in less-than-PC terms about heiress-turned-revolutionary Patti Hearst on a visceral reworking of “Hey Joe” (a single that preceded the landmark Horses), Smith touched on an important piece of information about her future: She’s working on a detective novel.
“I have my detective. I’ve been working on it for a few years at my own pace,” Smith said. While a deal with her publisher precluded her from speaking on it in detail, when asked by Billboard for more information, she did reveal that she’d already cast a real-life actor as her fictional detective — “Clive Owen,” Smith said.
A longtime fan of detective novels and TV shows (which M Train addresses), Smith explained what attracts her to the genre. “I don’t like the crime or the stress of crime,” she specified, adding that she doesn’t have any particular interest in serial killers, either. “I like the mind of the detective.”
Speaking on Henning Mankell, the recently deceased writer who gave the world Kurt Wallander, Smith called him “several cuts above the other genre writers.” Slyly nodding to her own genre ambitions, Smith called Wallander one of the greatest detective characters of all time, and added, “If I could say that before I die, I’d be happy.”