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  • TUESDAY, JANUARY 09, 2007

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Rob Sheffield's first book.We bumped into journalist David Fricke last week, and now it’s time to talk about another noteworthy Rolling Stone columnist: Rob Sheffield. He’s the man behind “Pop Life,” which applies Sheffield’s literate, grad-schooled thoughts to such pressing issues as Grey’s Anatomy’s popularity and The Hold Steady’s awesomeness. He’s the Chuck Klosterman of Rolling Stone, albeit with less facial hair.

And like Chuck Klosterman, Sheffield has parlayed his journalism experience into a book career. Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time may not be the best title for one’s first novel, but this book is good. Really, really Good. We’re talking High Fidelity levels of good, although Sheffield's piece is considerably more heartbreaking than Nick Horby’s musical masterpiece.


Mix Tape begins with one of Sheffield’s childhood mix tapes (entitled “Rumblefish,” although the connection to author S.E. Hinton is never really explained) and eventually focuses on his relationship with, and eventual marriage to, a writer named Renee. When Renee dies unexpectedly, Sheffield’s relationship with music helps him reach some sort of peace – even if he’s “lost” some songs to her painful memory.

Sound cheesy? It’s not. It’s good - so good that we caught up with Sheffield at Astor Place’s Barnes & Nobel, where he read excerpts of the book to a crowd that included Klosterman and assorted Rolling Stone personnel. Sheffield's crazy about music, and it shines through in everything he does. When the reading ended and a joking audience member asked Sheffield what he was wearing, the writer launched into a mini-speech about his Rolling Stones pin, noting that the record it features (1969's Through the Past, Darkly) is the only one to feature an octagonal record sleeve. Good call, Sheffield. And good book, too. We're lifetime fans now.

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