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Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time Paperback – December 4, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A celebratory eulogy for life in "the decade of Nirvana," rock critic Sheffield's captivating memoir uses 22 "mix tapes" to describe his being "tangled up" in the "noisy, juicy, sparkly life" of his wife, Renee, from the time they met in 1989 to her sudden death from a pulmonary embolism in 1997. Each chapter begins with song titles from the couple's myriad mixes—"Tapes for making out, tapes for dancing, tapes for falling asleep"—and uses them to describe a beautiful love story: "a real cool hell-raising Appalachian punk-rock girl" meeting in graduate school a "hermit wolfboy, scared of life, hiding in my room with my records," and how they built a tender relationship on the music they loved, from the Meat Puppets to Hank Williams. Their bond as soul mates makes his reaction to her death deeply moving: "I had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language." But Sheffield's wonderful, often hilarious and lovingly detailed stories about their early romance and their later domestic life show how they created their own personal "mix tape" of life in the same way a music mix tape "steals moments from all over the musical cosmos and splices them into a whole new groove." (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sheffield was a "shy, skinny, Irish Catholic geek from Boston" when he first met Renee. Southern born and bred, "she was warm and loud and impulsive." They had nothing in common except a love of music. Since he made music tapes for all occasions, he and Renee listened together, shared tapes, and though never formally planning to, married. On May 11, 1997, everything changed. He was in the kitchen making lunch. Suddenly, she collapsed, dying instantly of a pulmonary embolism. Devastated, he quickly realized that he couldn't listen to certain songs again, and that life as he knew it would never be the same. Fun and funny, moving and unbearably sad, Sheffield's account at its quirkiest, and because of his penchant for lists, is reminiscent of Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity (1995). Anyone who loves music and appreciates the unspoken ways that music can bring people together will respond warmly to this gentle, bittersweet reflection on love won and love irrevocably lost. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Reprint edition (December 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400083036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400083039
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rob Sheffield has been a music journalist for more than twenty years. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, where he writes about music, TV, and pop culture, and regularly appears on MTV and VH1. He is the author of the national bestseller Love is a Mix Tape, which has been translated into French, German, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and other languages he cannot read. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By suzy on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Started the book somewhat resistantly, because I am grieving my sister's recent death, and was not sure that I was ready to become involved with a sad subject. Only reason that I went ahead is because I heard that he recently married again (I don't know if this is true, it's just what I heard) so at least I felt that no matter how tragic the story was, there was a someday things can be ok out there. Read it cover to cover, stayed up all night to finish it, fell in love with Rob, Renee, and rediscovered my own mix tapes and added lots of new stuff to my iPod. Really great book about dealing with bereavement and it is helping me cope with my own tragedy around my dear sis. I will recommend this book to everyone that I know who loves music.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful By buddyhead on April 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
You either made mix tapes as a kid or you didn't, and this book speaks to those of us who, though we may have moved on to iPods and ripped CDs, appreciate the emotive power and nostalgia-inducing ability of a customized cassette. [In many cases, we still have those cassettes though lack the means to play them.] Sheffield, a music writer since at least the early 90s (still with Rolling Stone), knows his stuff, and fills this autobiographical account of his love affair with wife Renee with as many pop references as the pages can handle. A beautiful story is woven about the geeky Massachusetts boy's instant and soulful connection with a loud and extroverted Southerner, originating with their shared interest in music and continuing in that melodic vein until Renee's timely 1997 death in Rob's arms (from a pulmonary embolism that hit her in their kitchen while Rob made French toast).

Sheffield is as deft writing about love as he is about music, which is saying an awful lot; he expertly captures the thrill and helplessness of falling in love, and his worship of Renee is heart-achingly poignant. Anyone who reads this and doesn't identify with Sheffield's powerful descriptions of fully giving his heart to another, and of loving someone to the point of fear (of losing oneself, of not being able to keep the other safe enough, of recognizing the other will be on hand to witness your inevitable worst), should leave his current relationship and immediately begin searching for the true "right one."

It's all about the music, though, descriptions of which are shored up by Sheffield's encyclopedic knowledge of songs and the artists who make them. Mix tapes are described in general (the Break Up tape, the Fall In Love tape, etc.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By DELETED on January 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I knew I was in trouble when page 2 of this book was soiled by tears. Especially because they were fresh and mine. This book had it's way with me for the next several hours. By the end I had experianced a wild ride of emotional peaks and valleys. Belly-aching laughter & woeful sobbing. The Sturm und Drang. The stuff of life.

Rob Sheffield & Renee Crist were contributers to the SPIN ALTERNATIVE RECORD GUIDE. A book I've kept close at hand for years and referenced time and time again. It's led me to bands like The Wipers & The Only Ones. For which I'm eternally grateful. I haven't always agreed with Rob. In fact, once upon a time, I sent a spiteful diatribe to him because he used the word "miasma" to describe the sound of a Jane's Addiction song in a Rolling Stone review. I was too young then to freely admit that sometimes I like a little noxious foreboding in my Zeppelin spawns. Rob, I take it all back.

I was unaware that Rob & Renee were married, or that Renee had passed in a sad & sudden manner. This book is their story told through the hiss & crackle of mix tapes. It's also about the journey from adolescence to adulthood and the music that gets you there. It is so gut-wrenching and, by turns, hysterical you devour it in one sitting and if you (like me)have any of your old mix-tapes around, you'll dig them up immediately. You'll play them and they will caress and maim you...or at the very least show you how much you've grown.

It's hard for me to imagine anyone reading this book not being extremely moved. However, I know people for whom music is just background noise. They don't listen to it. They just consume it. These people have never made a mix-tape for anyone. These people are not my friends. These people have no soul.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Nina Bennett on March 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book, after little more than a cursory glance at the dust cover info, because of the title. Sheffield shares the essence of his love, loss and journey of healing through a series of mix tapes. The alt music of the 90s isn't my music, but mix tapes have a universality that transcends time and genre. As someone who has made and received mix tapes, I relate to the careful thought and ordering process behind them, and appreciate their importance. I took great delight in the revelation of Rob and Renee's relationship through the music that brought them together.

Sheffield's writing is crisp and edgy enough to hold your attention. He is never maudlin, yet his despair over his wife's death is evident. Even though I knew from the beginning of the book that Renee died, I was still stunned when I actually read that chapter. Sheffield evokes such a tangible energy and vibrant personality that I found it incomprehensible that Renee could be dead.

Love is a Mix Tape serves as much more than a memorial; it is an explosive celebration of life and an affirmation of the power of music to bind people together.
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