Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love is a Mix Tape

Running into my local grocery store last night I bumped into a pal from ball hockey. He’s a bruiser with a bad slashing habit. It was one of those odd out-of-context moments when you see someone where they don’t fit. He was way back in a long line of sheepish-looking men at the flower counter. I said, “Hey, howse it goin” but then quickly walked back to the dairy section. It was an awkward moment, but I’m not entirely sure why. Buying flowers for Valentine’s Day is entirely manly after all. Perhaps buying flowers the night before V-day shows a little too much thoughtfulness for a guy fond of chopping players down in front of the net. And buying carnations at Safeway is maybe a secret he needs to keep. I’ll never tell dude.
But I applaud all middle-aged men making the effort today. When it is -20 degrees outside and the car makes a weird noise when you try to start it, keeping love and romance alive in a multi-year marriage can be an effort! New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin shows how you do it in his new memoir about his late wife, About Alice. Trillin was pretty much everywhere last weekend, at least twice on CBC Radio, talking about the book. One review noted that "About Alice is so suffused with love that readers may want to give it as a wedding present with the note, “This is how it's done””.
A Generation-X version of a memoir/paean about a late wife is Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time. Sheffield, now a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, uses mix tapes to describe how a shy rock geek managed to meet and eventually marry a beautiful, cool punk rock girl. And how music helped him through the sudden loss of that girl from a pulmonary embolism in 1997. Rock writer Chuck Klosterman says, “Love is a Mix Tape is the happiest, saddest, greatest book about rock'n'roll that I've ever experienced."
Thinking about mix tapes and women will lead you inevitably to Nick Hornby’s classic novel of record geeks, mix tapes, Top Five lists and romance: High Fidelity. Some deep thoughts on life, love and loneliness wrapped in a hilarious tale of love-gone-bad and music obsession.


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