Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Slanted and Enchanted...

Over the past two evenings I devoured Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. This is a memoir by a music journalist (if you watch any of those countdowns or pop culture shows on VH1, you've probably seen him dissing people on it), in which he details his relationship with his two great loves, music and his late wife Renee Crist. Rob and Renee were a classic case of opposites attracting. They were brought together by their shared love of music. They met at 23, the only two people in a bar to perk up when a Big Star song comes on the jukebox. By 25, they were married, and at 31, Rob was made a widower when Renee suddenly and inexplicably dies of a pulmonary embolism in their apartment.

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I completely adored this book. The majority of the book covers the years 1991-1998 or so, which were my high school and college years. Like Rob, I have a lot of fond music and pop culture memories of the time. It was a time when Seattle was king, you could turn on pop radio and hear bands like Weezer, Elastica, and Belly, hip-hop was awesome and dangerous (Public Enemy! Ice-T!), and a 16 girl could go to sleep, clutching her pillow and dreaming of Trent Reznor, Henry Rollins and Anthony Keidis. Ahem. This book has a lot of musical references, which might be less interesting to those not really interested in music. But it brought back a lot of memories for me, and I think that many of us have our own musical memories; songs and bands that make us think of a particular time, place or person.

I loved the story of his relationship with Renee as well. She sounds like a fantastic person, and you can see how he fell so in love. His tales of being a young music geek in love, a young, scared husband, and finally a young, lost widower were alternately funny and sad. I was truly weepy when reading about his experiences after Renee's death: how he felt like he couldn't listen to music again without her to share it with, how much he hated being single again, his obsession with Jackie O. I'm a married person who is the same age that Rob was when he lost his wife, and man, I can't even imagine.

His writing style is very funny. Here's a passage in which he describes his 13 year old self (p. 28):

The words "douche" and "bag" have never coupled as passionately as they did in the person of my thirteen year old self. My body, my brain, my elbows that stuck out like switchblades, my feet that got tangled in my bike spokes, but most of all my soul--these formed the waterbed where douchitude and bagness made love sweet love with all the feral intensity of Burt Reynolds and Rachel Ward in Sharky's Machine.

Not even sure what that means, but it makes me laugh. This is a fast read, alternately hilarious and touching. I loved Rob, I loved Renee, and I'm happy that he was able to live and find love again. If you miss the nineties, if you love rock, pop and alternative music, or if you like true stories of true love, give it a try. An A for this one.


Anonymous said...

This is on my list to read! Entertainment weekly loved it and i've been dying to read it. i'm so glad you liked it - i think i'm going to go get it tomorrow.

Devon said...

You'll really like it. And it makes for good commute reading, because the chapters are short, and its episodic.

The review in EW is what made me rush for it. There was another one in that issue. I'm going to read next, if I can find my Ice Skates so I can get to the library.

Anonymous said...

Was that other book "him her and him again"? I wanted to read that one too and can't remember if I wrote it down. I'll have to head to the library too but in Hoboken you have to put the request in 3 weeks ahead of time...