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Summary

"Friend, asshole, angel, mutant," singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt "came along and made us gross and broken people seem...I dunno, cooler, I guess." A quadriplegic who could play only simple chords on his guitar, Chesnutt recorded 17 critically acclaimed albums before his death in 2009, including About to Choke, North Star Deserter, and At the Cut. In 2006, NPR placed him in the top five of the 10 best living songwriters, along with Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, and Bruce Springsteen. Chesnutt's songs have also been covered by many prominent artists, including Madonna, the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Sparklehorse, Fugazi, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Kristin Hersh toured with Chesnutt for nearly a decade and they became close friends, bonding over a love of songwriting and mutual struggles with mental health. In Don't Suck, Don't Die, she describes many seemingly small moments they shared, their free-ranging conversations, and his tragic death. More memoir than biography, Hersh's book plumbs the sources of Chesnutt's pain and creativity more deeply than any conventional account of his life and recordings ever could. Chesnutt was difficult to understand and frequently difficult to be with, but, as Hersh reveals him, he was also wickedly funny and painfully perceptive. This intimate memoir is essential listening for anyone interested in the music or the artist.

Cover photo by Danny Clinch.

©2015 Kristin Hersh (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Beautiful, Heartbreaking, Funny.

This book was written a little like a Kristen Hersh song, a strange stream of consciousness that slowly sucks you into a vortex of feeling. Its almost an extended poem. But not at all difficult to listen to. She seamlessly works in snippets of Vic's lyrics and small references to his own difficult life story.

Despite her inimitable style and spot on delivery (she nails Vic Chesnutt's distinctive voice.) This is not Hersh's book. It's Vic's story, from beginning to end. Utterly unsentimental and full of honest emotion, bitterness, despair and humor. Just like his work.

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  • Blackjack Bones
  • 05-12-20

Superb

I have read this book first but having the author read it to me was an even greater experience. her voice sounds just like you would imagine it would when you read it on the page! this book vividly paints moments in time in a way that is captivating and for some maybe relatable.