Wednesday, September 19

Harvard Book Store Presents (Past Events)Special Events Archive

Dessa

Buy Tickets

Dessa

presents

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

Pre-sale tickets (book included) now available
General entrance tickets on sale Aug 23 at 9am

This event includes a book signing

Harvard Book Store welcomes singer, rapper, and writer DESSA for a discussion of her debut memoir, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love.

About My Own Devices

In her literary debut memoir, rapper and singer Dessa gives a candid account of her life in the van as a hard-touring musician, her determination to beat long odds to make a name for herself, and her struggle to fall out of love with someone in her band. Raw and intimate, 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 Mixtape in 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 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.

Praise

“I found myself laughing with almost every page, often because the writing was funny, but even more often out of sheer delight at someone using the English language so audaciously well. Dessa has an essayist’s eye and a rapper’s virtuosity, and she’s going to conquer the world.” —Joseph Fink, author of Welcome to Night Vale and Alice Isn’t Dead

“Dessa is a master of putting words to our feelings, even the ones that are hardest to pinpoint. This book is her deftest work: an articulation of the feelings that haunt so many of us: the thrill of pursuing everything you want, the terror of realizing you’re racing against an invisible clock, and the ache of loving a person you probably shouldn’t. I read it cover to cover—twice—and dogeared so many pages it would be easier to find the pages I *hadn’t* marked. A beautiful book.” —Nora McInerny, author, host of Terrible, Thanks for Asking

“Dessa has consistently transcended conventional stereotyping, and her writing should command interest even from readers who know nothing of her work with the Doomtree collective and her solo releases.” —Kirkus Reviews


Purchase the Book
Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.


Dessa

Dessa is a musician, an essayist, and a proud member of the hip-hop collective Doomtree. She’s landed on the Billboard Top 200 list as a solo artist (Chime), as a Doomtree member (All Hands), and as a contributor to The Hamilton Mixtape. She has made her career by bucking traditional genre designations—rapping at rock festivals, co-composing for a full choir, and performing alongside a full orchestra. As a writer, she’s contributed to the New York Times Magazine, MPR, the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and literary journals across the country. She splits her time between New York City, Minneapolis, and a tour van cruising at six miles per hour above the posted limit.