Tiffany's Reviews > Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves

Cassette From My Ex by Jason Bitner
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Mar 27, 11

bookshelves: yolathelibrarian, music
Read from January 19 to March 27, 2011

Mini-essays about past loves and the music that went with them.

I don't think I ever made a mixtape for a love interest, and I'm 99% sure I never received a mixtape from a love interest. I've made and received mixtapes and mix CDs for/from friends and people I didn't know, but never as part of a romantic situation. I obviously missed out on good times. Still, as someone who loves music, loves sharing music, and is anally retentive about getting mixes *just right*, I thought this was a charming book, and definitely an idea that speaks to my heart and the way my mind works.

Reading these essays, it was interesting to see the choices of music (duh), especially looking for songs by bands I like (and strangely, there weren't a whole lot of those). Even more interesting was the common bands that kept popping up -- for example, The Magnetic Fields is a name I recognize but know nothing about, but quite a few of the mixtapes included The Magnetic Fields. The people who made/received these tapes were obviously much cooler than I was/am. It was also fun to play the "How old are they?" game, trying to determine the author's and love interest's age based on the music included on the tapes. The related game of "Are they my age?"/"Was this music I listened to?" was also fun.

This book is also extremely interesting as a coffee-table/art book. The layout and graphics (pictures of the tapes, pulling elements from the tapes' artwork and using them for backgrounds for the essays, the author bio pages) are visually stimulating, and after a while, when I realized how cool each essay's layout was, I started looking forward to the layouts even more than I looked forward to the essays. Lissi Erwin is a good art director!

However, for me, this wasn't one of those essay books that could be read in long spells. I could read a few essays at a time, then they all started to sound like each other (And really, in the end, aren't they all pretty much the same? "There was this person I liked. This person liked me. We liked each other. S/He made me a mixtape. We are no longer together." It's the nature of the beast of a book whose title includes "Cassette" and "Ex." The details vary, but the general outline is still the same.), so I had to put the book down for a day or two. Still, the idea behind the book is an interesting one, and reading about the relevance of music in other people's lives--mainly why the mixtape creator picked particular songs, be it because the title spoke to a particular motivation, or the lyrics spoke to a motivation, or because they were silly songs or inside jokes, etc.--is touching (and at times like eavesdropping on their brain). This book is also wonderful for getting ideas for future mixes ;)
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