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Don't Suck, Don't Die

9780292759473: Hardback
Release Date: 1st October 2015

9781477311363: Paperback
Release Date: 6th September 2016

10 b&w photos

Dimensions: 114 x 178

Number of Pages: 200

Series American Music Series

University of Texas Press

Don't Suck, Don't Die

Giving Up Vic Chesnutt

Written by
Kristin Hersh
,
Foreword by
Amanda Petrusich

Hardback / £18.99
Paperback / £11.99

Foreword by Amanda Petrusich

I. Eat Candy
II. Thickety Time
III. Go Outside and Look at the Moon
IV. First, Give
V. See You in My Dreams

Selected Discography

Kristin Hersh is a founding member of the bands Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave. She is the author of Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt, one of NPR’s Best Books of 2015, and Rat Girl, which Rolling Stone named one of the top ten best rock memoirs ever written.

Amanda Petrusich is the author of several books about music, including Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records. Her criticism and reporting has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Pitchfork, Spin, BuzzFeed, and the Oxford American, where she is a contributing editor. She teaches music writing at New York University.

“This pocket-sized book is a curious mix of memoir, letter, and shattered elegy. Yet in under 200 little pages, it paints a more honest, insightful picture of the late singer-songwriter than any biography could…. [Hersh’s] descriptions (“his little pointy sneakered goat feet”) and remembered conversations, the intimacies and the road tales – some happy (the Robin Hood hat), some not (the methadone on the airport toilet floor) – are beautifully, poetically told. And the ending is haunting – for him and for her”—Sylvie Simmons, MOJO, November 2015

“[Chesnutt’s] contradictions are perfectly captured by the writing, which is at once oblique yet vivid with detail and word play (at one point the disembodied coice of a lighting engineer is described as ‘Wizard-of-Ozing’). Alive with Southern vernacular, Don’t Suck, Don’t Die captures the warmth of ‘gross and broken’ soul mates, the selfishness of friendship (‘I didn’t care that you hurt’), and the heartache as marriages and then lives are lost. As such it’s a book that will move anyone who’s loved and lost, regardless of whether they’re a fan of the author or Chesnutt.”—Susan Darlington, R2, October 2015

"Storyteller tells storyteller. This is a stunning, difficult, and beautiful chronicle of why and how we breathe to create. It all loops back around. The true Vic comes alive in Kristin's words."—Michael Stipe, Lead singer of REM

“I did give up on him,” she says. “Not for the standard reasons. I wanted more; I was frustrate. I find old stories like striving for success, holding grudges or reaching for drugs just… boring. I wanted Vic to be better than that, because he was better than that. Pain almost always wins, though. His shining was rarely rewarded, while his pain was fed constantly. We need to do better by people like Vic on this planet. The shallow have many outlets, many rewards. Aching hearts suffer in private."—Uncut Magazine, August 2015

"The book's great sadness is matched by the skill and vitality of Hersh's writing; it will make treasured and troubled reading for fans of Chesnutt and the author alike. "

Kirkus Reviews

"Don't Suck, Don't Die is not only one of the best books of the year, it's one of the most beautiful rock memoirs ever written. Hersh is as stunningly talented an author as she is a musician, and her portrayal of Chesnutt is perfectly done."

NPR

"A raw, poetic memoir . . . a last, wonderful example of Chesnutt at his most charismatically mischievous"

The Guardian

"Hersh’s language is vivid and conversational, as descriptive and elliptical as her own music."

Salon

"[Hersh’s] observations . . . always ring with a harsh lyrical truth . . . an eloquent, heartbreaking testament. Hersh’s language is vivid and conversational, as descriptive and elliptical as her own music."

Pitchfork

"In under 200 little pages, it paints a more honest, insightful picture of the late singer-songwriter than any biography could . . . Beautifully, poetically told."

MOJO

"A powerful and moving insight . . . A book that will move anyone who’s loved and lost, regardless of whether they’re a fan of the author of Chesnutt."

R2

"An intimate, complicated portrait of the artist as road warrior . . . a beautiful but often dark, heartbreaking read."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"An ode, an elegy and an examination of the physics of friendship."

WABE 90.1 Atlanta

"Through beautifully phrased, dark, honest prose, [Hersh] paints a poetic portrait of earnest struggle, friendship as significant savior, and learned empathy."

The Austin Chronicle

"The music made by the late Vic Chesnutt was evocative, haunting and often heartbreaking. Kristin Hersh's book about the singer-songwriter shares all of these qualities . . . It's a book that gives a tremendous sense of what friendship with such a person was like, for good and for bad, and leaves the reader feeling his absence even more once the book has ended.
"

Rolling Stone

"It’s messy and spiky and unforgiving, crushingly sad, sometimes funny, and humane . . . I couldn’t speak for a while after finishing Hersh’s book."

Inside Higher Ed

"[I]n this haunting, poetic, musical road show memoir, singer/songwriter Kristin Hersh takes us inside her friendship with Chesnutt. Her experience is as insightful to a musician's life as it is to the human existence—constantly probing and reevaluating self-understanding along with her footing on the planet. . . . There are lines you'll never forget, and you can't help but love the adorable, self-sabotaging, curmudgeon Chesnutt revealed in these pages. You'll wish you'd been there to absorb his flak backstage or in the southern sun. On balance, this book stands as a testament to the sincerity of his songwriting."

The US Review of Books