The punk chanteuse has become the irresistible siren of middle age, and she has done so not by surviving but by refusing to settle for the glamour of past accomplishment. Except for what she will do next, M Train is the most beautiful thing she’s ever made.
Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication. That paradox, of a solitude played out in plain view, plays about the edges of M Train but does not overwhelm it.
The moments like this one...have remarkable power...But in less charged passages, that style can become monotonous, or even (he whispered, quietly) self-serious. The terse, dashed dialogue, the black-and-white photographs reminiscent of Sebald or Berger or Barthes — these are signifiers of the authentic, and therefore faintly inauthentic, unworthy of so indisputably authentic a person.