Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rock of Pages: Love Is A Mix Tape

Posted By on Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 9:00 AM

While we wait for the mail to show up with some nifty new books (a history of Krautrock and Patty Smith's book about Mapplethorpe, to name a couple), we'll once again pull a book off the Wayward Blog bookshelf. This week, it's Rob Sheffield's Love Is A Mix Tape.

click to enlarge bookcase.jpg

When Love Is A Mix Tape came out, my wife and I immediately special-ordered it, to make sure we'd get it as soon as possible. We'd met in our early/mid-20s, and the first few years of our relationship resulted in several mix CDs, where we both attempted to suss out the other's intentions hidden within the lyrics of the songs.

We figured that a tale of doomed love, framed by a collection of tapes Sheffield discovered and listened to after his wife's death, would be so overwhelmingly beautiful and touching that it would instantly become one of favorite books (along with Terry Pratchett's Where's My Cow?, Michael Perry's Pop. 485, and Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything).

Sadly, that was not the case. While a touching tale of two misfits who find love, despite the fact that they've very little in common, Sheffield's marriage to his wife Renee happened so quickly following his meeting her that there's very little between them upon which to reflect. It's more a story of what's not there than what is.

click to enlarge love_is_a_mix_tape.jpg

Slowly but surely, the book moves along, and I found myself hoping that Renee would live, so there'd be more story. The book's cut short by Renee's death, and the rest of the story consists of Sheffield making friends with her friends and family, and learning who she was.

The descriptions of music are amazing, but it's the fact that Sheffield doesn't bring the same details and energy to his depictions of his wife. It's obvious he knows one better than the other, and that's where the sadness comes from. Were that he could've known Renee as well as he knew the bands and songs of which he speaks.

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