Thursday, January 27, 2011

Patti Smith channels Dan Brown

I have never had much time for Patti Smith, my first impression being closely aligned with Jenny Davidson's remark that "Patti Smith seems to me to reside at the horrible intersection of the trajectories of Jim Morrison and Susan Sontag BOTH OF WHOM I LOATHE!" Nevertheless, I initially processed the Guardian headline about her forthcoming detective novel as an Onion spoof. (The beauty of RSS feeds is that all headlines look the same except the ones that are in all caps.) I read the article with a sort of fascinated loathing:
This week, the singer revealed she has completed "68%" of a "detective story" based in England. In a Guardian interview last weekend, Smith hinted at several literary projects to follow her acclaimed memoir, Just Kids. [...] "For the last two years ... I've been working on a detective story that starts at St Giles-in-the-Fields in London," she said. Now, whenever the singer is in the city, she visits the church "where it came to me".

Over the last 40 years, Smith has published more than a dozen books of poetry, plus collections of artwork and lyrics. Though her written work has been more Allen Ginsberg than Agatha Christie, Smith said she has "loved detective stories" since she was a child. Her planned novel is inspired by Sherlock Holmes and American crime writer Mickey Spillane.

Smith is also recording a new album, influenced by Saint Francis of Assisi, the home of Dylan Thomas, and Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita [Ed. !!] , and plans to tour the UK. On Tuesday, singer-songwriter Patrick Wolf revealed on Twitter that he is joining Smith on her forthcoming dates. "Just tuning up my harp and viola, been asked by patti smith to join her again as part of her backing band," he wrote. Perhaps he can carry her magnifying glass.

Yes, precisely 68%. And isn't St. Giles-in-the-fields precisely the sort of cheaply resonant, tinselly English place name that would appeal to her?

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