It's a few lines in a short essay from Claudia Gonson, a member of the band the Magnetic Fields, buried within a larger, and appropriately addicting, book of essays. But like many of the short pieces in "Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves," the title of the book and its theme - ruminations on old mix tapes handed down during relationships long since kaput - are all the context you need to hear the cringe behind even the most innocuous-seeming tale. What instruments do you hear? You hear condescension, and you hear a little snobbishness, and you definitely hear a certain brand of music obsession that happens when you're the right age to fall madly in love with a song but the wrong age to understand love with real people. All of which comes through loudly in this gorgeous, surprisingly affecting compilation - the two-year project of Jason Bitner, who grew up in Glen Ellyn and co-founded Found magazine then moved to Brooklyn. He started with a Web site of the same name Cassettefrommyex. We spoke with Bitner earlier this week from his home in New York City.
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An art form combining the skills of a DJ with the intimacy of a letter, a good mixtape was the ultimate audio valentine. Today, when the iPod and playlists reign supreme, the cassette has been rendered obsolete, and the art of crafting these sonic calling cards has been relegated to back-of-the-closet, thirty-something nostalgia. Now, thanks to Jason Bitner, we can relive our lost youth and lost loves. In Cassette from My Ex , sixty noted writers and musicians wax poetic about their own experiences with these charming artifacts and the relationships that inspired them. Everyone will find a story or a song to relate to. Just hit play. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. Anyone who understands the obsessive attention to detail, the time it took to collate, select, and edit the content of a perfectly executed mix tape, or just someone who appreciated the rhythms and nuances of such extraordinary artifacts will treasure this collection of stories, comfortable and secure in the knowledge that such exquisite efforts were not made in vain and indeed there was a time when a humble cassette tape was perhaps the greatest gift of all.
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