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Reviewed by Doug Freeman, November 30, 2007, Music

Love Is a Mix tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

by Rob Sheffield
Crown, 224 pp., $22.95

Much has and will be written about the transcendent power of music, both personal and universal. Love Is a Mix Tape, thankfully, isn't such a book. Its heart lies much deeper, its poignancy grounded in a much more sincere reality. Less a memoir than a tribute and commemoration, Mix Tape traces the relationship between current Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Rob Sheffield and his wife, Renee, their marriage cut tragically short by her death in 1997 at age 31. Using mixtapes the two spackled with 1990s pop and alternative culture, Sheffield recalls their life together in the college town of Charlottesville, Va., with a willful nostalgia, the music serving as foil rather than substance. The beauty of the book emerges in Sheffield's direct writing and appreciation of the music, accessible and rife with a shattering pain as he celebrates Renee's life through his grief at her loss. Avoiding ostentatious critical digressions into the music or the times, Sheffield understands the simple, relatable personal attachment we invest in music and are left clinging to when all else disappears. Honest, heartbreaking, inspiring, and beautiful, Mix Tape encapsulates our connection to music and, more importantly, to one another.

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