I'm having a really hard time reviewing Love is a Mix Tape and I can't figure out why. Maybe it's because this book was as near to perfect as I could ever hope. Or maybe it's because, as anyone who is familiar with the late 90s tour de force Playing by Heart (all 10 of you) knows, talking about love is like dancing about architecture. I don't know if that's true or not, because Rob Sheffield talks about love just fine. Maybe he has a dance about The Sears Tower, too, and that's what his next book is about. Fingers crossed.
When I "met" my husband on Match.com, we spent a week emailing each other before meeting in person. We spent most of our first date talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, David Sedaris, and Rushmore. It's how we bonded, how we got to know each other and I think that's true of so many of our generation, especially now that the Internet, home to All Pop Culture Knowledge Ever, exists in such a way that we can access any aspect of pop culture at ANY TIME. Did you forget how Alex Mack got her superpowers? Wikipedia has the answer. Want to know how many companions The Doctor has had? Easy. Well, sort of. My point is (if I have to have one), it's all pop culture all the time in our house. My husband and I are still finding random bits of pop culture (POP POP) to bond over. It's why we recently purchased Hey, Dude and honestly, it's akin to a secret language at this point, our ability to converse in movie and TV quotes, quotes that have mated with other quotes and given birth to brand-new-baby quotes at this point, leading to inside jokes that even we don't really understand anymore and yet still never fail to make us laugh.
This was true of Rob and Renee in Love is a Mix Tape, only replace movies with music. I had no idea what Love is a Mix Tape was about when I picked it up, which is weird because someone bought it for me BECAUSE IT WAS ON MY WISHLIST. Most likely I'd heard good things about it (for good reason) and put it on my wishlist, or I was drunk online-window shopping again. The world may never know. Anyway, I didn't even know this was a memoir until I started reading it and thought, "Hey, the main character's name is Rob, just like the author's! Oh, and the cover says memoir on it." Duh-DOY.
Rob Sheffield is a writer for Rolling Stone and knows more about music than anyone in the world (I'm assuming). Love is a Mix Tape was published in 2007, which means, as usual, that I am super late to the party, a party that probably had the most epic mix tape imaginable. The story begins with Rob, freshly widowed, sitting in his apartment, listening to a mix tape, and missing the hell out of his wife, Renee. Objects that remind him of her litter the apartment. He doesn't actually say outright that she's died, not right away. In fact, at first, I thought he was reminiscing about an ex-girlfriend. And while it's true that I'm not very observant, I think the reveal is spectacularly done.
Each chapter of Rob's memoir begins with a mix tape that leads the way into the narrative. Stories throughout the book flash back to before Renee died, how the two met and came to be married, to her death and the days and years afterward. It's heartbreaking and funny and I was not only in awe that a person could make it through something so terrible with such wit and humor intact, but it made me wish I'd known Renee. One of her favorite movies, after all, was The Cutting Edge and I think I've already made it obvious that I have a soft spot for wonderawful 90s movies.
Having read this, I'm adding Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut to my Wishlist immediately. Five stars all around!