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My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road…

My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and… (edition 2018)

by Dessa (Author)

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523345,548 (4.41)None
In a literary, honest style, evoking Amanda Palmer and Miranda July, Dessa demonstrates just how far the mind can travel while the body is on the six-hour ride to the next rap show. Dessa defies category-she is an academic with an international rap career; a lyrical writer fascinated by behavioral science; and a funny, charismatic performer dogged by blue moods and a perseverant case of heartache. In "The Fool That Bets Against Me," Dessa wonders if the romantic anguish that's helped her write so many sad songs might be an insurable professional asset. To find out, she applies to Geico for coverage. "A Ringing in the Ears" tells the story of her father building an airplane in their backyard garage-a task that took him almost seven years. The essay titled "Congratulations" reflects on recording a song for The Hamilton Mixtapein a Minneapolis basement, straining for a high note and hoping for a break. The last piece in the collection, "Call off Your Ghost," relays the fascinating project Dessa undertook with a team of neuroscientists that employed fMRI technology and neurofeedback to try to clinically excise her romantic feelings for an old flame. Her onstage and backstage stories are offset by her varied fascinations-she studies sign language, algebra, neuroanatomy--and this collection is a prism of her intellectual life. Her writing is infused with fascinating bits of science and sociology, philosophical insights, and an abiding tenderness for the people she tours with and the people she leaves behind to do it. Dessa's music has been praised as "forceful and whip-smart" (NPR) with a sound "like no one else" (The Los Angeles Times); and My Own Devices is as uncompromising and brilliant. Dessa finds unconventional approaches to all of her subjects-braiding her lived experience with academic research and a poet's tone and timing. In the vein of thinkers who defy categorization, we get the debut of a deft, likable, and unusual voice.… (more)
Title:My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love
Authors:Dessa (Author)
Info:Dutton (2018), 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love by Dessa



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This is an excellent book. The writing is thoughtful, and intriguing. She presents a very honest and unvarnished account of her life without being self absorbed.

I know next to nothing about rap and had never heard of Dessa. I have no idea where I heard about this book, but I'm glad I did. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 26, 2019 |
Unsurprisingly, Dessa is a beautiful writer, with small shockingly insightful observations all over. Much of the book is various descriptions of her attempts to fall out of love with her ex, including with biofeedback training, because they loved each other but couldn’t be good for each other. As she says, polyamory wasn’t for her, and perhaps separately she didn’t want to explain it to her family: “although I admire the zero-fucks-given attitude of my radical friends, I give plenty of fucks. I hand them out like perfume samples at the mall, in fact.” ( )
1 vote rivkat | Jan 24, 2019 |
For anyone who's listened to Dessa's music, her way with words will not come as a surprise. For anyone who has missed out so far, this is a good introduction - these essays are full of her trademark classical allusions, her vivid descriptions of love and loss (covering the spectrum from romantic to familial) and those carefully curated moments of vulnerability that land like a punch whether they appear in an album or a paragraph. ( )
1 vote akaGingerK | Nov 28, 2018 |
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