Rob Sheffield married Renée Crist about a year after meeting her in when he was in grad school and she was in the MFA program. They were very different: he was 6'5", she was 5'2". She was outgoing and he was reserved. But they both loved music. They had a great relationship living Charlottesville, Virginia. They were both DJs at the local college radio station, and they both worked as writers for national music magazines, while doing other jobs locally to make ends meet. They enjoy life in the small southern town, and have lots of friends. Then, at the age of 31, Renée died suddenly at home, from a pulmonary embolism. Sheffield was devastated. In Love Is a Mix Tape he reminisces about his life with Renée through the tapes of records and CDs they used to create for themselves and for each other. He remembers the bands they saw together, the songs they used to sing together, driving around listening to tapes. Now a widower, he stays up all night or drives around town listening to old tapes.
Sheffield's writing is straightforward, and in the unabridged audiobook, his own reading is subdued but sympathetic. The book will be particularly powerful for readers who have themselves spent hours making their own mix tapes on cassette, and know many of the bands that Sheffield so fondly remembers: Pavement, Sleater-Kinney, Big Star, and even Nirvana. It's a little hard to believe that his relationship with Renée was as perfect as he makes it seem, but it is easy to relate to his enthusiasm for indie, alternative, grunge music, as well as country, blues, jazz and pop. His description of his own grief is the most powerful part of the book, and his pain is vivid. We get some sense of how he gradually starts to recover and rebuilt his life. Sheffield now lives in Brooklyn and works as a contributing editor to Rolling Stone Magazine.
Link: Publisher's page for book.
© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews. His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.